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Full text of "Smart Computing Volume 17 Issue 6"

We Compare The Best Video-Editing Tools p. 20 Our Staff Picks The Best Hardware p.26 





EASY WAYS TO GET 
UP & RUNNING 



I Create A Drive Image 

Restore From A Backup 

Create A Backup Safety Net 



SECU R ITY 



■ Pretty Good Privacy 

Still Going Strong, Still Secure p. 36 




Reviews 

We Check Out 

Microsoft's 
New Internet 
Explorer 7 Beta 



On The Web 

Let Your ISP 
Help You Set Up 
A Web Site p,4i 



Tips & Tricks 

Using The Win98 
Device Manager p.30 



^ 




General 
Computing 

Windows File 
Associations: 
Which File Goes With 
Which Application? p.38 




s 



PC Project 

Add A USB Hub 
To Your System p.67 



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ial offer! 



For Smart Computing readers, valid until June 09, 2006: Buy 
online at www.magix.com and get a $5 discount - simply use 
the following code during checkout: mp3-smcomp 



Includes 



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the multimedia community 



4f* % smartcomputing.o 

Computing 

I In Plain Enalkh *J 



® 



In Plain English 



Volume 17 . June 2006 . Issue 6 



Reviews 



This Month's Cover Story: 




Backup Basics 

It's Time To Protect Yourself & Your Files 

System Restore 

A Rewind Button For Your PC 



A Backup Medium With High Results 

Top Candidates For Convenience, Capacity & Cost 

Best Of The Backup Software Batch 

Look For Performance You Can Count On 

Follow The Backup Wizard 

Step-By-Step Archiving, Scheduling & Drive Imaging 

Be A Disaster Master 

Put Your Backup Plan Into Action & Restore Your Data 



12 News From The Help Desk: 
Most Popular & Timely 
Tech Calls 

We tell you the most common 
problems we're hearing about 
each month and then provide 
straightforward solutions for 
each one. 

16 Tech Diaries 

Our Smart Computing colum- 
nists spent some quality time 
with computer and computer- 
related hardware and software 
to get beyond the benchmark 
scores, statistics, and marketing 
hype. Find out what they liked 
and disliked about their choices. 



20 Movies Made Easy 

With a little help, anyone can 
turn a home movie into a 
cinematic masterpiece. 



24 


Software Reviews 






System Utilities: 
Registry Mechanic 5.1 


24 




Multimedia: 
Spin It Again 


25 




System Utilities: 
fhPrintScreen 


25 



26 Staff Picks 

Our writers and editors select 
their favorite hardware. 



Penguin Gear Aluminum 
External Enclosure 




^^S>4(P^' 



Saitek Eclipse Keyboard 




Copyright 2006 by Sandhills Publishing Company. Smart Computing is a 
registered trademark of Sandhills Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction 
of material appearing in Smart Computing is strictly prohibited without written permission. 
Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 Smart Computing USPS 005-665 (ISSN 
1093-4170) is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 
West Grand Drive, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501. Subscriber Services: (800) 424- 
7900. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes 
to Smart Computing, P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501 . 



Windows Tips & Tricks 



28 



30 



32 



Windows XP: Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview 

Take a glimpse into Microsoft's future with the beta 
version of IE7. 



Windows 98: Using The Windows 98 Device Manager 

Reclaim control of your Win98 system with a trip to the Device Manager. 




Windows XP: Troubleshoot Your WinXP Network 
With Ipconfig & Ping 

Get your WinXP PC in tip-top shape with a pair of 
lesser-known system utilities. 



General Computing 



to 



36 PGP To Be Surely Secure 

PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, has been with us for quite a while. Find out why 
a lot of users still depend on it for the type of encryption security they need. 

38 Which File Goes With Which Application? 

If you don't like the programs your files have been associating with lately, we 
have some steps you can take to set them right. 



Plugged In 



40 Mr. Modem's Desktop: 
Mr. Mop - Top's . . .urn, 
Mr. Modem's Mailbag 

In which Mr. Modem, author of 
several books — none of which 
has won the Pulitzer Prize — and 
co-host of the weekly "PC Chat" 
radio show, shares some recent 
heartrending pleas for help. 

41 Set Yourself Up 

Find yourself an online niche 
with some help from your ISP. 



44 WiMAX vs. Wi-Fi 

These two Internet-access technologies tend to cause a bit of confusion 
among consumers: We explain the differences and for whom each 
technology is ideal. 




46 Web Tips 
48 Find It Online 

Each Month 



6 Technology News & Notes 

69 Quick Studies 

78 Tech Support 

92 Editorial License 



The Crossover virus can infect 
PCs and mobile devices. See 
Technology News & Notes. 




Tech Support 



78 What To Do When . . . 

The DELETE Key Won't Work 
In Microsoft Word 

A computer isn't much good if it won't 
let you erase your mistakes. Get your 
DELETE key back in working order. 

80 Examining Errors 

82 Fast Fixes 

83 Q&A/FAQs 

You have questions. We have answers. 
The Smart Computing staff responds to 
your queries. 

89 Action Editor 

Can't seem to get a response from a 
vendor or manufacturer? If you need 
help, we're here for you. 

90 Tales From The Trenches: You 
Need Help With What! 

Real-world tech support advice from 
PC guru Gregory Anderson. 



PC Project 



67 Hop On The Bus, Gus 

Give yourself some additional USB ports 
to work with by adding a USB hub. 



Quick Studies 



69 Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 

Open Projects From A Variety Of 
Sources 

70 Online 

Consider Online Backups 

71 Microsoft Word 2002 

Balance Macro Security 
& Accessibility 

72 Corel WordPerfect 1 1 

Publish To PDF 

73 Microsoft Excel 2002 

Using Macros 

74 Quick Tips 



Tidbits 



76 Your PC & Music 

Learn how your PC can make listening to 
and creating music a magical experience. 



Editor's Note: Back Up & Restore 



Remember those early hard drives? A 5MB drive was huge, or so we figured. "I'll never fill that up," you thought. 
And next year's 10MB drive was almost incomprehensibly vast: "That should do me for years," you said. 

Boy, were you (OK, we) wrong Programs grew, operating systems grew, media files ballooned We demand much 
more from our PCs than we ever thought we would, and they deliver. Best of all, we're able to store all of that data for 
pennies. (Think of ic If a 100GB drive costs $200, it means that we're paying two-tenths of a penny per megabyte.) 

We store an awful lot of data on today's big hard drives; there are probably files on there that you don't 
even remember creating but that you'd dearly hate to lose: financial documents, letters, photos, scrapbooks, 
collages, emails, contact lists, presentations The list is almost endless. 

What a disaster if you were to lose all of that! Of course, you don't really have to worry because you have all 
sorts of backups, right? Right? What? You don't make regular backups? You've never practiced restoring from 
a backup? Why, that means ... well, actually, it means that you're just like the rest of us. 

Let's face it: Not many of us make regular backups. Like going to the dentist, changing the oil in our cars, and 
cleaning our Venetian blinds, it's one of those things we know we should do, but we tend to put it off. Why? 
Well, because — not unlike those visits to the dentist — it's time-consuming and a little scary. There's so much to 
know, so many issues to worry about: What kind of backup should I make? Using which tools? What's the dif- 
ference between a differential backup and an incremental one? Do I need to worry about drive imaging? Is there 
some way to automate the whole thing? How do those online backup services work? How will having backups 
help me if my hard drive dies, anyway? What should I do to rebuild my drive or populate a new one? 

Yikes. No wonder we put it off. 

You can stop worrying. It's not that complicated, nor need it be terribly time-consuming. We'll tell you 
everything you need to know about backups and restoration in this issue. After that, it's up to you. 



Rod Scher, Publication Editor 



Now Available On Newsstands . . . 

Computer Power User* Make Your Rig Scream 

Microsoft may have postponed Windows Vista until January, but it's never 
too early to start planning for any upgrades you might need to run it. Find out 
what to expect this month in CPU. 

PC Today *iPAQ Attack 

Most of the smartphone talk these days centers around BlackBerrys and Treos. 
But there's a world of other devices that are just as smart — and in some ways 
smarter — than the two more popular lineups. This month we look at HP's 
iPAQ smartphones. 

First Glimpse * Stay Organized 

The mid-year mark is a good time to evaluate how orderly your home and 
lifestyle are. If you could use a little help in that arena (and can't we all?), we'll 
show you how you can keep your life organized and running smoothly with 
the latest CE products. We also show you how to get the most out of your sur- 
round-sound system, and we'll give you a roundup of everything you'll need 
to make your summer vacation truly memorable. 

Reference Series * Yahoo! 

You can get lost just browsing through the rich content available at 
Yahoo.com. One of the Web's biggest success stories, Yahoo! has evolved from 
a hodge-podge listing of destinations into one of the premier sites online. 
Read this issue to find out about all the useful tools, special communities, and 
extensive features Yahoo! has available for both consumers and businesses. 



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Corrections/Clarifications 

In our April issue (pg. 10), we noted that readers could acquire Driver Agent for a one-time fee 
of $29.95. That was true at press time, but since then, the company's special promotion has 
ended. The subscription fee is now $29.95 per year. 




Sandhills 
Publishing- 



Customer Service 

(For questions about your 
subscription or to place an 
order or change an address.) 

customer.service 
@smartcomputing.com 

(800) 733-3809 
Fax: (402) 479-2193 

Smart Computing 

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Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 

Hours 

Mon. - Fri.: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST) 
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Editorial Staff 

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Fax:(402)479-2104 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 

Subscription Renewals 

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Fax:(402)479-2193 

www.smartcomputing.com 

Advertising Staff 

(800) 848-1478 
Fax: (402) 479-2104 
131 W.Grand Drive 
Lincoln, NE 68521 



^ 



The 

Audit 

Bureau 



TABLE OF CONTENTS JUNE 2006 



June Web-Only Articles 

Smart Computing subscribers may read the following articles at SmartComputing.com. 

Hardware 

For all the latest product reviews, visit the Hardware Reviews area at 
SmartComputing.com (www.smartcomputing.com). 

PC Operating Instructions 

Linux: Shred It All 

Wipe your hard drive clean with this helpful Linux utility. 

Quick Studies 

Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 

Solving Object Headaches 

Security 

How To Respond To An Attack 

Email 

Chat With Cmail 

Adobe Photoshop CS 

Automate Image Processes 

Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8 

Troubleshoot How It Integrates 
With Third-Party Apps 

Browsers 

Track RSS Feeds In Internet Explorer 7 




+ f7 j^j Symantec Comn 
S F4 Norton AnliVnus 


on'Driv 


er: SymEvent 



TotalSize:1020.2KB 



. Update Symantec Security Software Update 



"..''".. • ■ : : . " 



. ; 



Security 



Roxio PhotoSuite 7 
Platinum 

Solve Printing Woes 

Adobe InDesign CS2 

Fine-Tune Character 
Formatting 

Microsoft Money 

Data File Management 




Si .v .. a* 




Microsoft Access 2002 

A Workaround 

For Lookup Fields In Queries 

HTML 

Regain Control When Code Goes Bad 

Microsoft Works 2005 

Import Photos From Removable Media 



Roxio PhotoSuite 7 Platinum 




Sandhills 

Publishing- 



Editorial Staff. 

Ronald D. Kobler / Rod Scher / 

Kimberly Fitzke / Sally Curran / Corey 

Russman / Christopher Trumble / 

Calvin Clinchard / Katie Sommer / 

Katie Dolan / Blaine Flamig / Raejean 

Brooks / Michael Sweet / Nate Hoppe 

/ Trista Kunce / Sheila Allen / Linne 

Ourada / Joy Martin / Ashley Finter / 

Brian Weed / Holly Zach / Marty Sems 

/ Chad Denton / Nathan Chandler / 

Kylee Dickey /Josh Gulick / Andrew 

Leibman / Vince Cogley / Sam Evans / 

Jennifer Johnson 

Web Staff. 

Dorene Krausnick / Laura Curry / 
Kristen Miller 

Customer Service: 

Lindsay Albers 

Subscription Renewals: 

Connie Beatty / Matt Boiling / Patrick 

Kean / Charmaine Vondra / Miden 

Ebert / Kathy DeCoito / Stephanie 

Contreras / Nicole Buckendahl 

Art & Design: 

Lesa Call / Fred Schneider / Aaron D. 
Clark / Carrie Benes / Ginger Falldorf / 
Sonja Warner / Aaron Weston / Lori 
Gam's / Jason Codr / Andria Schultz / 
Erin Rodriguez / Lindsay Anker 

Newsstand: 

Garth Lienemann /Jeff Schnittker 

Advertising Sales: 

Grant Ossenkop / Cindy Pieper / 
Brooke Wolzen / Eric Cobb 

Marketing: 

Mark Peery / Liz Kohout / Marcy Gunn 
/ Kelly Richardson /Jen Clausen / Scot 

Banks / Ashley Hannant / Luke Vavricek 
/ Travis Brock / Becky Rezabek / Lana 

Matic /Jeff Ashelford / Ryan Donohue 




Meet our expert Julie 

Home A/V Editor, Crutchfield 

"Just about every day, I come across a cool 
product which strikes me as perfect for someone 
I know. These are some of my current favorites." 



CRUTCHFIELD 

32 years of helping our customers choose 

Expert picks 

THE RIGHT FLAT-PANEL 
FOR YOU? 

Sony Bravia™ XBR® TVs 

- 26", 32" and 40" screen sizes 

"Sony's XBR LCD Ws may be the most 

gorgeous High-Definition flat-panels I've 

ever seen. Unlike early LCD TVs, their color is natural 

and the response time is great. But you don't lose the accuracy and sharpness that 

LCD is known for. Best of all, they all have a PC input as well as the usual video inputs. 

Plug in your laptop, and you have an impressive display for work or gaming." 

Sony Bravia XBR LCD TVs #158KD26XBR, 158KD32XBR, 158KD40XBR 




iPOD'S PERFECT PAL 

Bose® SoundDock™ 

"These days, I find I don't have to spend much time telling people 
about the Apple iPod - most of them already know. But I've 
noticed more and more iPod fans who are looking for ways to 
listen to their iPod without headphones. One of the solutions I've 
been suggesting is the attractive-yet-understated Bose Sound- 
Dock. It's essentially a dock with built-in powered speakers. All 
you do is slide your iPod into place and let the music play." 
Bose SoundDock #018SNDD0CK 




POCKET-SIZE, YET POWERFUL 

Canon PowerShot SD450 

"Canon's Digital ELPH line of cameras has always been sleek, 
but in the last year they've started packing an amazing amount 
of technology into each tiny camera body. For example, the best- 
selling SD450 is a 5-megapixel camera with a 2 1 /2 n viewscreen, 
but it weighs just 5 ounces and is under an inch deep." 

Canon PowerShot SD450 #280PSSD450 



Free Shipping on your first order 
Use offer code 3A461 ■ Expires 7-31-06 \ 

CRUTCHFIELD 



For a free catalog or to order 
1-800-555-8303 or www.crutchfield.com/smc 



Voted *1 electronics retailer 6 times running. 

Crutchfield received BizRate's Circle of Excellence award for seven key areas, 
including our product selection, on-time delivery, and customer satisfaction. 




Technology News & Notes 

Compiled by Christian Perry 
Illustrated by Lori Garris 



DESKTOPS & LAPTOPS 



Intel's UMPC Platform Seeks Mobile Niche 



As details continue to pour 
in about Intel's new UMPC 
(Ultra Mobile PC) platform, skep- 
ticism shadows anticipation as 
experts question whether the new 
device can survive in a world 
already filled with effective mo- 
bile platforms. 

From a feature standpoint, 
UMPCs are certainly unique 
in the handheld market. The 
subnotebook-sized devices in- 
clude 7-inch touchscreens, 
run WinXPT (Windows 
XP Tablet) PC Edition 
2005, use Intel pro- 
cessors (the Pentium 
M appears in early 
models), and con- 
tain built-in Wi-Fi 
and Bluetooth. On 
some of the de- 
vices, Microsoft's 
Touch Pack soft- 
ware — formerly 
known as Orig- 
ami — controls the 
touch-oriented in- 
terfaces with an on- 
screen keyboard and 
other tools. However, 
this software won't neces- 
sarily appear on all UMPCs 
because third-party software, 
such as StreetDeck, also can pro- 
vide touch-driven controls. 

UMPCs with Touch Pack use 
DialKeys technology for typing 
data into the devices. And instead 
of a physical keyboard, users hold 
the rectangle-shaped UMPCs in 
their palms and type with their 
thumbs on the DialKeys interface, 



which is split between either sides 
of the touchscreen. 

As for power, the UMPC de- 
livers only three hours of battery 
time, which is a big disappoint- 
ment to those expecting the de- 
vices to serve as the ultimate 
away-from-home machines, espe- 
cially because we're already see- 
ing notebooks that boast five-plus 




hours of battery time. With that 
said, future iterations will use 
lower-power processors that can 
extend the battery life, but those 
models aren't likely to appear 
until late next year — at the ear- 
liest. Later models also will use 
Windows Vista, which should 



help the devices tap into the 
power-saving features of their 
processors. 

The short battery life, along with 
prices expected to fall between $700 
and $1,000, are some of the reasons 
why research firm Gartner claims 
the concept has promise but not 
much more. "Today, we believe it 
isn't possible to produce compelling 
UMPC products — just 'proofs of 
concept.' The low battery life, high 
price, and non-Vista OS (op- 
erating system) will likely 
hurt the UMPCs mar- 
ket acceptance in this 
first go-round, and 
the negative back- 
lash could damage 
its future chances," 
Gartner notes in 
a report. 

Gartner pre- 
dicts that the 
current UMPC 
concept will fail 
to achieve main- 
stream success (that 
is, its unit sales won't 
be in the millions) by 
2009. Doubt also echoed 
across the Web among 
consumers, who questioned 
the need for a device that Gartner 
dubs a "tweener," or something 
that's larger than a handheld and 
smaller than a standard notebook. 
Still, others appear intrigued by 
the notion of running a full- 
fledged Windows OS and ac- 
cessing full PC capabilities on 
a device that's just larger than a 
typical handheld. I 



6 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



STORAGE 



LightScribe: Burn A Disc, Flip, Burn A Label 



If you're tired of using a Sharpie marker to label your 
CDs and DVDs, perhaps it's time to check into drives 
that use LightScribe technology, such as Samsung's new 
SH-W162L LightScribe DVD burner, to burn labels di- 
rectly onto your discs. 

The technology is relatively easy to use, but 
the labeling process differs from what you'd 
usually do to create standard paper la- 
bels. First, you will need to install the 
LightScribe system software, which 
manufacturers include with their 
LightScribe-enabled drives. (You 
also can find universal software 
on the LightScribe Web site at 
www.lightscribe.com.) When the 
software is ready to go, you can use 
your usual labeling software to create 
a label design for your CD or DVD. 

Programs such as Nero Cover 
Designer, Roxio Easy Media Creator, 
Sonic Express Labeler, and SureThing CD 




Labeler require specific steps to properly print a LightScribe 
label. For example, certain versions of Nero's software in- 
clude LightScribe options that help you create a compatible 
label, but other developers (such as Roxio) don't include 
LightScribe-specific instructions, so you'll need to 
follow the steps detailed on the LightScribe 
Web site to create labels. After your design 
is set, you can simply insert the disc 
face-down in your burner and print. 
The company's site also includes 
free label designs you can use 
to fill the entire face of your 
discs or make them simply ap- 
pear as a thick or thin ring on 
the disc surface. I 



With this new technology, you 
can burn labels directly onto your 
LightScribe-compatible discs using any 
LightScribe-enabled CD or DVD burner. 



DISPLAYS 



HDCP: Not-So-Secure Security? 

Last month, we examined ATI's claim that some of its 
graphics cards supported HDCP (High-bandwidth 
Digital Content Protection), when reportedly they don't. 
Interestingly, this encryption scheme may not be very se- 
cure after all, despite being designed by Intel to control dig- 
ital audio and video content well into the future. 

In 2001, Dutch cryptographer Niels Ferguson announced 
that he had cracked the encryp- 
tion system used in HDCP, ex- 
plaining that "an experienced IT 
person could recover the master 
key in two weeks given four stan- 
dard PCs and 50 HDCP displays." 
Of course, that's using 2001-era 
PC technology, so that time would 
presumably be far less today. 

Ferguson never published his 
research, claiming that such an 
act would be a crime under 1998's 




Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but it's important to 
note that Ferguson isn't an anonymous Web cracker; in 
fact, he helped design the respected Twofish encryption 
algorithm and now works for Microsoft. But Keith Irwin, 
another cryptography expert, did publish methods for 
attacking HDCP (also in 2001). 

Despite these reports, there appears to be no working, 
distributed method for cracking 
HDCP, but some observers pre- 
dict that as HDCP grows more 
widespread, crackers will even- 
tually find a way to break its 
encryption, too. I 



Products such as this LG 50-inch 
plasma television include HDCP, the 
next-generation encryption scheme 
designed to thwart piracy. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 7 



TECH NEWS 



PRINTERS & PERIPHERALS 



OLED Edges Ever Closer 



As cool as OLED (organic light-emitting diode) tech- 
nology sounds, it tends to evoke far-fetched fantasies 
that might be better suited for a science fiction movie 
than any real-world scenario. After all, the prospect of 
printing OLEDs on a screen to create a display doesn't 
seem like anything we'll see happening in our 
home offices soon. 

But apparently, Epson begs to differ. 
The company recently created what it 
claims is the world's first OLED- 
based print head, which is a 
huge advance in an area that 
could eventually produce 
portable, flexible, and 
even roll-up displays. 
OLED printing tech- 
nology is similar 
in performance 
to laser printing, 
and Epson says the 
technology could 




eventually merge with the company's low-temperature 
polysilicon TFT (thin film transistor) technology to boost 
resolution and lower costs. 

For consumers, OLED technology could spell the end 
of high-cost color printing because it would presum- 
ably rival the cost of black-and-white laser 
printing. OLED also should beat the reso- 
ution of color laser printers, though 
affordable color lasers are slowly im- 
proving in the areas of text and 
graphics quality. For example, 
Dell's $399 3000cn model offers 
decent color laser printing with 
2,000-page color cartridges that 
run only about $65. 

We have yet to see OLED prin- 
ters, but the technology is already 
appearing in other sectors. BenQ- 
Siemens recently revealed its S88 
mobile phone, complete with a bright, 
2-inch OLED display. I 



CPUs, CHIPS & CARDS 



Intel Readies Conroe Processors 



The processor wars rumble on with In 
tel's recent unveiling of its Conroe 
desktop CPU technology, which ap- 
pears poised to give AMD a serious 
run for its money when it comes 
to performance. 

Although the last couple of 
years have seen AMD produce 
the fastest, most efficient desk- 
top chips, early benchmarks 
show Conroe easily beating 
top-of-the-line Athlon chips. 
Hexus.net benchmarked a Conroe 
running at 2.67GHz and over- 
clocked an Athlon FX 60 to 2.8GHz, 
using tests that utilized audio and video 
encoding, gaming, as well as memory tests, 
and other CPU tests. The Conroe outpaced the 
Athlon in all tests, and considering this was a midrange 




Conroe battling a high-range Athlon, these 
results are intriguing. 

In recent years, Intel's processors 
suffered not only from lackluster 
performance but also from heat is- 
sues; however, the company says 
the Conroe will provide a 40% 
boost in performance with a 40% 
decrease in power compared to 
the current high-end Pentium D 
950 processor. 
Intel's new microarchitecture 
features several new elements, in- 
cluding Wide Dynamic Execution, 
which improves the instruction-per- 
clock-cycle rate along with execution and 
energy efficiency, as well as Intelligent Power 
Capability, which saves power by turning on the 
individual logic system only when necessary. I 



8 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



DIGITAL MISCELLANEA 



Researchers Infect RFID Technology 



At this rate, our microwave ovens could soon be sus 
ceptible to virus attacks. Researchers at 
Amsterdam's Free University created a 
virus-infected RFID (radio fre- 
quency identification) chip to 
show the vulnerability of RFID 
systems, which experts pre- 
viously considered safe 
from attack due to the 
limited memory capac- 
ity of the chips. 

"Everyone working 
on RFID technology 
has tacitly assumed 
that the mere act of 
scanning an RFID tag 
cannot modify back- 
end software and not in 
a malicious way," the 
scientists wrote in a pa- 
per. "Unfortunately, they 
are wrong." 

According to the scientists, 
viruses existing on RFID tags 
can infect the back-end databases 
used by the RFID software. After in- 
fecting the databases, the viruses can then 
propagate to other RFID tags, an event that could 




enable militants or criminals to alter airline baggage sys- 
tems or supermarket databases. 

But AIM Global, the trade association 
for automatic identification and mo- 
bility, issued a statement soon 
after the scientists revealed 
their RFID research that dis- 
puted the virus claims. 
"Many of the basic 
assumptions in the pa- 
per overlook a num- 
ber of fundamental 
design features ne- 
cessary in automatic 
data collection sys- 
tems and good data- 
base design," said Dan 
Mullen, AIM Global 
president. "In other 
words, the researchers 
built a system with a weak- 
ness and then proceeded to 
show how the weakness could 
be exploited. Not surprisingly, 
poor system design, whether cap- 
turing RFID tag information, bar 
code information, or keyboard-entered 
data, will create vulnerabilities." I 






PROBLEM-SOLVER: TROUBLESHOOTING THE NEWS 



Why is my printer feeding multiple 
pages at once? 

Oh, you didn't want one printed 
page and five blank pages? Check 
that the paper currently in the paper 
tray isn't curled at the edges or cor- 
ners, as this can cause the feeder to 
grab more than one page. If you see 
curls pointing in one direction, grab 
the stack of pages and curl them in 
the other direction to make the 
pages straight. 

Why does my new hard drive have less 
storage than advertised? 



If the total capacity of your hard 
drive appears lower than what appears 
on the box, don't fret. Manufacturers 
measure the storage using the decimal 
format, whereas Windows uses a bi- 
nary format, and this difference causes 
a slight discrepancy when viewing the 
size of your drive via Windows. 

Why is my monitor screen fluttering? 

A fluttering screen is usually no 
reason to panic because the source is 
usually nothing more than a flaky 
monitor cable. Check that the monitor 
cable is firmly inserted on both ends; 



if it is, but you're still having problems, 
try replacing the cable. 

Why does my Windows Task Manager 
always report 100% CPU usage? 

If you reviewed the processes in 
Windows Task Manager but you're still 
having trouble identifying the source 
of a program that's using all of your 
CPU's resources, check the list of startup 
programs in the System Configuration 
Utility. (From the Start menu, click Run, 
type msconfig in the field, and click OK.) 
If you see something that doesn't be- 
long there, disable the program. I 



Smart Computing /June 2006 9 



TECH NEWS 



CONVERGENT TECH: PDAs & SMARTPHONES 



Crossover Virus Breaks PC-Handheld Barrier 



Are you sure you want to sync your 
handheld today? MARA (Mobile 
Antivirus Researchers Association) an- 
nounced it discovered the first virus 
that can propagate from PCs to mo- 
bile devices using Windows Mobile. 
Called Crossover, the virus works by 
infecting a host PC and then infects 
any Windows Mobile device con- 
nected to that PC via ActiveSync. 

Although the virus is apparently 
easy to remove, it can create some tur- 
moil before someone discovers it, in- 
cluding deleting the My Documents 
directory and overwhelming system 
resources. Viruses limited to PCs can 
cause far more damage and spread 
through many other means, but 
Crossover is interesting because it's 
the first virus that works on both PCs 
and Pocket PCs. 

According to MARA, an anony- 
mous source sent the virus to the asso- 
ciation, which then disassembled it to 
determine how it works. When exe- 
cuted, the virus checks the host ma- 
chine to see if it's running Windows 
CE or Windows Mobile, and if the 
host PC isn't running either of those, 
Crossover assumes it's running a 
desktop version of Windows. If the 
virus assumes the latter, it installs a 
copy of itself in the Windows folder 
and adds a Windows Registry file that 
forces Windows to execute the virus 
each time the user reboots the PC. 

MARA notes that each time the 
virus runs, it begins this process again, 



creating new files in the Windows 
folder and Registry, eventually creating 
enough data to hamper system perfor- 
mance (because Crossover uses unique 
names each time it creates the files, 
Windows doesn't recognize that the file 
data is indeed one and the same 

When the PC initiates an 
ActiveSync connec 
tion, the virus de- 
tects the connec- 
tion and copies it- 
self to the mobile 
device and executes 
there, deleting files 
in the My Documents 
directory and installing 
itself in the startup direc- 
tory. Mimicking its behavior 
on the PC, Crossover executes 
each time the device starts, 
making more copies of itself and 
eventually exhausting system re 
sources, explains MARA. 

Crossover's emergence has created a 
disturbance in the antivirus commu- 
nity, where antivirus vendors claimed 
they never received the virus and 
cannot update their definitions until 
they can analyze the code. MARA, 
which has professors and security pro- 
fessionals among its ranks, reportedly 
required vendors to join its member- 
ship in order to gain access to the code. 

At press time, the virus was consid- 
ered proof of concept and was not 
known to exist in the wild. However, 
Crossover could very well signal the 



beginning of mobile malware variants 
that can easily travel among devices — 
large and small — regardless of the OS 
(operating system) in use. I 







*-*^ 

»> 







Devices using Windows Mobile could 
be susceptible to the new Crossover 
virus, which can infect and spread among 
PCs and mobile devices. 






DULY QUOTED 



". . . geez, get a decent computer where you can actually 

read the text and you're not sitting there cranking 

the thing while you're trying to type." 



-Microsoft chairman Bill Gates mocks the $ 1 00 laptop currently in 
development by MIT's One Laptop per Child association. 

(Source: Reuters^ 



10 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




PC Today \s designed for today's on-the-go business professional. 

Visit PCToday.com for more information or call (800) 733-3809 



Sandhills 
Publishing- 



TECH NEWS 



News From The Help Desk 



Most Popular & Timely Tech Calls 



Compiled by Kylee Dickey 



Each month, we receive numerous technical support calls and 
email messages. Some computer problems are fairly common, 
and we find that many callers struggle to resolve the same issues. 
In this article, we cover five of the most common or timely tech 
support questions and provide our solution for each of them. 

Ql've visited a Web page that is supposed to have pictures, 
but I can't see the pictures. Instead, I just see a red "X." 
What does this mean, and why don't I see the pictures? 

A There are three main reasons you may see a red X. 
First, the Web site's administrator may have moved 
the image file to a different directory without also updating 
the Web page's HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) code 
to accommodate the change. Second, perhaps the page's 
HTML code doesn't include a link to the image. Third, your 
browser may not be able to display the image. 

If the problem is that the Web site's administrator moved 
the image file to a different directory or forgot to code the 
link to the image file, there isn't anything you can do to fix 
this. The problem is on the Web site's end rather than your 
end. You can email the site's administrator (if an email ad- 
dress is available) to notify her of the problem, but there's 
no guarantee that you'll get any results. 

On the other hand, if the red X appeared because your 
Web browser cannot display the image, the problem is ei- 
ther that your particular browser does not support the 
image file type the site uses or that your browser's settings 
prohibit automatically loading image files. 

To check your settings in Internet Explorer, open the 
Tools menu and click Internet Options. Click the Advanced 
tab and scroll through the Settings list until you find the 
Multimedia category. Make sure there is a check mark in 
the Show Pictures checkbox and click OK. If you use 
Mozilla's Firefox, open the Tools menu, click Options, se- 
lect Web Features, select the Load Images checkbox, and 
click OK. (Other browsers have similar settings.) 

If you prefer not to automatically view images so that 
Web sites load faster, you can leave the Show Pictures 
checkbox unchecked and try another option: Whenever you 
see a red X, simply right-click the red X and click Show 
Picture to load that individual image. 

QMy computer won't boot, and now I see an error mes- 
sage on-screen: "NTLDR is missing. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to 
restart" or "NTLDR is missing. Press any key to restart." 



A Although there are a few things that can cause this, we're 
going to cover the most common cause here. When we 
receive calls about this problem, there is usually a very simple 
fix: Check your floppy diskette drive. In many cases, a diskette 
was left in the drive, and the computer is merely trying to 
boot from the diskette instead of booting from the hard drive. 
Eject the diskette and try to restart your system again. 

If this suggestion doesn't fix the problem, you may need to 
use the Recovery Console to repair your Windows installa- 
tion. You can read more about this procedure by accessing 
one of the articles in our Tech Support Center. Go to 
www.smartcomputing.com, click the Tech Support Center 
link, click Browse Error Messages Alphabetically, press CTRL- 
END to skip to the bottom of the Web page, click the No-01 
link, and locate the corresponding link: "NTLDR is missing. 
Press any key to restart." This link leads to an article that has 
detailed instructions about restoring corrupted or missing 
files using the Recovery Console. 

Ql'm having problems with my computer, which was 
working fine two days ago. A friend suggested that I try 
System Restore. How do I do this? 

A To use System Restore, you must have Windows XP or 
Windows Me. System Restore creates a series of restore 
points, to which you can reset your PC. When it creates a re- 
store point, it monitors changes to applications, drivers, DLL 
(dynamic-link library) files, and Registry files. System Restore 
does not, however, monitor changes to data files; therefore, if 
you revert to an earlier restore point, you won't lose docu- 
ments you created or edited since that time. However, this 
emphasizes the importance of backing up important files. If 
you rely only on System Restore, you won't have a way to save 
corrupted or accidentally deleted documents. 

By default, System Restore will make a couple of restore 
points automatically each day if your computer is turned on 
but idle. It also will automatically create a restore point before 
installing new software. Plus, you can manually create restore 
points whenever you want (as long as you have enough hard 
drive space). 

To access System Restore in WinMe/XP, open the Start 
menu and click All Programs (or Programs), Accessories, 
System Tools, and System Restore. To create a restore point, 
select Create A Restore Point, click Next, type a name for 
your restore point in the Restore Point Description field, and 
click Create. When choosing a name for your restore point, 



12 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



TECH NEWS 



consider using the date or describing any relevant changes 
you plan to make to your system. 

When you run into trouble, you can restore your system to 
a previous state by opening System Restore and selecting 
Restore My Computer To An Earlier Time. In the following 
dialog box, you'll see a calendar on the left side; dates for 
which Windows created a restore point appear in bold. Click 
the date to which you wish to restore your computer. If there 
are multiple restore points for that date, select the restore 
point you want to use from the area on the right side of the 
calendar and then click Next. Windows will need to restart 
your computer before the restoration is complete. 

If you find that reverting your system according to the re- 
store point creates additional problems, you can undo this ac- 
tion. Just start System Restore again and choose Undo My 
Last Restoration. Follow the on-screen instructions, and 
Windows will restart your system automatically. 



How do I format my hard drive and reinstall Windows? 

A Keep in mind that you should only format your drive 
and reinstall Windows as a last resort. After all, you'll 
lose all the data on your hard drive when you format it. This is 
yet another reason why it's important to make periodic 
backups of your files. If you haven't already done so (and if 
you can still access the files on your system), you should back 
up any important files now. You also may want to jot down 
your network settings, so you can easily get your computer 
online again after you reinstall Windows. 

Insert the Windows installation disc and restart your PC. If 
you see a message to press a key to boot from the CD, press 
the indicated key. If your system doesn't give you the option 
to boot from the CD, you may need to change the BIOS' 
(Basic Input/Output System's) settings so it checks the optical 
drive first. {NOTE: The instructions for entering the BIOS vary; 
check your PC's or motherboard's documentation for specific de- 
tails. Usually, you'll press and hold down the F2 key [or 
DELETE, ESC, Fl, etc.] as you restart your PC.) 

After you boot from the CD, the Windows installation disc 
will check your configurations and prompt you to either in- 
stall or repair Windows. Choose to install Windows. When 
you see the EULA (end-user license agreement), read it and 
press F8 to accept the agreement. 

On the next screen, use your arrow keys to select the drive 
or partition on which Windows is currently installed. Press 
the D key to delete contents of the partition. Windows Setup 
will prompt you twice more to ensure that you really want to 
delete the data on the drive. Press ENTER when prompted to 
confirm the procedure. Finally, press the L key to finish the 
confirmation. Choose either the NTFS (NT file system) or 
FAT32 (32-bit file allocation table) installation. (We recom- 
mend the NTFS installation.) You also may choose either the 
Quick or Advanced installation option. 



Windows Setup will load all of the files it needs onto your 
hard drive, and then you'll see a prompt to press any key to 
reboot from your CD. Press any key to continue. After your 
computer reboots, you should see the familiar Windows envi- 
ronment. The rest of the setup process is fairly straightfor- 
ward; follow the on-screen instructions to complete the 
Windows installation. Remember to run Windows Update 
when you finish to ensure that you have all of the latest service 
packs and security updates. 

I've been reading an article in Smart Computing that says 
I need to boot in Safe Mode. How do I do this? 

A To enter Safe Mode, restart your computer. As soon as 
the computer starts to power up, press and hold down 
the F5 key until you hear a beep and see a message stating that 
Windows is running in Safe Mode. Click OK to continue. 

You also can access Safe Mode through the Startup 
Menu. To do this, restart your computer, press and hold 
down the F8 key in WinMe/2000/XP (or press and hold 
down the CTRL key in Windows 98) until you hear a beep 
and the Startup Menu appears. Then select Safe Mode and 
press ENTER. 

If you have more than one version of Windows installed 
on your system, the Startup Menu will include a list of 
Windows versions; select the one you want to boot into and 
press ENTER. Then press and hold the F5 key until your 
computer displays the message stating that Windows is 
running in Safe Mode. I 



Feature Package Topics 


Each Smart Computing issue includes tips, reviews, and 
information about a variety of topics. However, each issue 
also has a featured group of articles about a selected topic. 
Below is a list of the Feature Packages from the previous year. 
As a Smart Computing subscriber, you have access to all of 
our archived articles at www.smartcomputing.com. 


June 2005 


Fast Trouble-Free Internet Access 


July 2005 


Digital Photography — 

50 Great Tips From The Pros 


August 2005 


Our Favorite Windows Tips & Tricks 


September 2005 


Fix The 50 Most Annoying PC Problems 


October 2005 


Get The Most From Your CDs & DVDs 


November 2005 


Solve The Wireless Puzzle 


December 2005 


Our Annual Holiday Buyer's Guide 


January 2006 


Troubleshoot! Solve Software Problems 


February 2006 


What's Slowing Down Your PC? 


March 2006 


Reinstall Your Operating System 


April 2006 


Protect Yourself Against Viruses & Spyware 


May 2006 


Vista vs. XP 



Smart Computing / June 2006 13 



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Tech Diaries 



iPod On The Road 

Share The Love 



Joshua Gulick 

Send your comments to 
joshua@smartcomputing.com 



PodFreq 

$99.95 
Sonnet Technologies 
(949) 472-2772 
www.podfreq.com 





TransPod 

$99.99 
DLO 
(866) 800-4763 
www.dlo.com 




TuneCast II 

$39.99 

Belkin 

(800) 223-5546 

(310)898-1100 

www.belkin.com 



Apple's iPod entered the gadget scene as 
a personal music player that chan- 
neled sound to its owner via earbuds. 
These days, you're just as likely to see it 
entertaining crowds as you'll see it on 
the lone iPodder, thanks to some 
clever accessory manufacturers. 
Large and small, portable and sta- 
tionary, iPod speakers abound. 
And those who want to listen to 
their tunes on a home stereo 
or television can easily find 
devices that can make the 
appropriate connection. 
But these cables, docks, and 
speakers generally require a physical 
connection — something that won't fly in 
many of today's automobiles. If your car 
has a cassette player, you can use a device 
that plugs into both your iPod and the car's 
tape deck. If your car has a CD/radio 
combo or simply a radio, you need to go 
wireless. Enter the FM transmitter. 



Road Tunes 

The FM transmitter broadcasts your 

tunes, so your car stereo can receive the 

music and channel it to the car's 

speakers. A commercial-free radio 

station that plays only the songs 

of my choice (limited to my 

iPod's music collection, of 

course)? I had to check it out. 

I took three transmitters 
for a spin: Belkin's TuneCast 
II, DLO's TransPod, and Son- 
net's PodFreq. 



The TuneCast II supports any MP3 player 
(iPod or otherwise) because it plugs into the 
device's headphone jack. It doesn't have a 
car charger or a dock that will hold it in 
place while you drive (Belkin offers a $29.99 
TuneDock Car Holder separately), but it's 



ultra-portable, thanks to two AAA batteries. 
Thus, you can use it in your car and then use 
it again with your home stereo. (After all, FM 
transmitters support any FM radio.) 

Sonnet offers separate PodFreqs for the 
iPod (third generation and newer) and 
iPod mini. The transmitter is portable (al- 
though it drains your iPod's battery slightly 
instead of using its own). But it includes a 
car charger to counteract that and has a 
great protective case that covers all but the 
face of the iPod. The extendable antenna is 
another plus. Unfortunately, the car mount 
is a separate accessory. 

On the other hand, the TransPod's car 
charger doubles as the car mount. The ad- 
justable mount is very sturdy and includes 
an extension arm. I found that I could 
easily reach the iPod in this mount with 
one hand while driving. It supports stan- 
dard iPods (third generation and newer) 
and also handles iPod minis and nanos. As 
with the other transmitters, the TransPod 
has a small display that provides the cur- 
rent channel. A button at the side of the de- 
vice activates the display's light. 

... & Play 

Setup for any of these devices is a 
snap: Once you attach the iPod and start a 
song, tune your car stereo to an unused 
channel and then tune the FM transmitter 
to the same channel; you'll hear the music 
right away. 

I expected to find a sound quality differ- 
ence from device to device, but all three de- 
vices provided clear audio on empty (static 
only) or nearly empty (weak signal) chan- 
nels. You'll need to fiddle a little with the 
stereo to find a clear connection to any of 
these devices, but the minimal hassle pays 
off. Of course, you could just throw on the 
earbuds to drown out the fighting kids in 
the back seat or those pesky sirens. 

I like all three transmitters. I'd buy the 
PodFreq for someone who really appreci- 
ates the iPod's style, as it really comple- 
ments the sleek iPod. I'd recommend the 
TuneCast II to families who have both 
iPods and non-Apple MP3 players. And I'd 
buy the TransPod for any non-geeky iPod 
lover, as it has a great car mount included 
as part of the package. II 



16 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Diaries 



Too Big To Love? 

Microsoft's UMPC 



Chad Denton 

Send Chad your opinions at 
chad@smartcomputing.com 




According to the Compact Oxford English 
Dictionary, the word "mobile" means 
"able to move or be moved freely or easily." 
With that definition in mind, Microsoft's 
Ultra-Mobile PC, or UMPC, sounds like a 
gadget lover's dream. Unfortunately, the 
UMPC is far from what I'd call ultra-mobile. 

In case you missed Microsoft's CeBIT an- 
nouncement, the UMPC is a touchscreen 
device with a 7-inch display, hard drive, and 
wireless connectivity. Instead of Windows 
Mobile, it runs Windows XP Tablet PC 
Edition and sports a special user interface 
known as Microsoft Touch Pack (previously 
known as Origami). The UMPC concept is 
not new or novel, and its predecessors have 
fared poorly in the past. 

Obviously, the UMPC's most direct an- 
cestor is the Tablet PC, which is just a 
larger version of the UMPC. Although the 
Tablet PC has been around for several 
years, it hasn't really caught on, outside 
from a few niche markets. In part, this is 
due to the Tablet PC's price, which doesn't 
compare favorably to similar notebooks. 

A slightly older descendent of the UMPC 
is Sony's U50, which appeared on the 
market in 2004. The U50 ran WinXP 
Home or Professional and included a hard 
drive. It was smaller than the UMPC, mea- 
suring 4.25 inches high x 6.57 inches wide x 
1.03 inches deep. Where a UMPC features a 
7-inch display, the U50 only included a 5- 
inch display. Sony didn't see fit to release a 
follow up to the U50, and it essentially dis- 
appeared without making much of a splash 
at all. 

Finally, going way back, the UMPC re- 
minds me a bit of old handheld PCs. These 
devices didn't include hard drives and ran 
Windows CE rather than full versions of 
Windows, but many had the same awkward 
form factor we're seeing in the UMPC. 
While the UMPC obviously has more fea- 
tures and power than the old handheld 
PCs, I somehow doubt it'll be enough to 
overcome the UMPC's size issues. 



TabletKiosk's eo UMPC (www.tablefkiosk 
.com) measures 5.75 inches high x 8.98 
inches wide x 0.98 inches deep and weighs 
less than 2 pounds. Samsung's Ql measures 
5.47 inches high x 8.93 inches wide x 1 inch 
deep and weighs more than 1.5 pounds. At 
these dimensions, the UMPC is too big to fit 
into a pocket. You could toss it into a note- 
book case, but at that point, you might as 
well buy a notebook with a decent keyboard 
and a larger display. 

The UMPC, however, has another prob- 
lem: battery life. TabletKiosk quotes 2.5 
hours for its eo UMPC with a standard bat- 
tery and four hours with an optional ex- 
tended battery. We're hoping other UMPC 
manufacturers can increase this number to 
around eight hours. If not, it's going to be 
hard for mobile workers to stray too far 
away from a power outlet. 

Then there's the price. At press time, only 
TabletKiosk had a price available for its 
UMPC. The $899 base price includes 256MB 
of RAM, a 30GB hard drive, and a 1GHz VIA 
C7 NaNo processor. For $50 less, you can 
buy a Dell El 505 notebook with Windows 
XP Media Center 2005, 1GB of RAM, a 
40GB hard drive, and a 1.66GHz Intel Core 
Duo processor. I can only hope other manu- 
facturers offer more competitive pricing. 

The UMPC appears to have more going 
against it than for it. For me, the UMPC 
form-factor is a big problem. The story goes 
that Jeff Hawkins, the man who created the 
Palm Pilot, walked around with a balsa 
wood mockup of his device for several weeks 
to make sure the size was right. I don't get 
the impression that Microsoft and its UMPC 
partners have given the same kind of atten- 
tion to the UMPC's size and weight. His- 
torically, at least, this form factor doesn't 
appear to be a winner. Combine a bad form 
factor with horrible pricing, and the UMPC 
has lots of problems. 

I suspect the UMPC may eventually find a 
following among a handful of users (pri- 
marily people who enter data while on the 
go), but it may be an even smaller niche than 
the Tablet PC. The biggest thing the UMPC 
has going for it is Microsoft. The company 
has the kind of deep pockets needed to 
maintain a project even if it isn't initially suc- 
cessful, and Microsoft has a way of eventually 
turning losers into winners. II 



Smart Computing / June 2006 17 



Tech Diaries 



The Right Price 

Canon's PowerShot A620 Is A Great Value 



Kylee Dickey 

Send your comments to 
kylee@smartcomputing.com 




PowerShot A620 

$399 

Canon 

(800) 652-2666 

(714)438-3000 

www.powershot.com 



The PowerShot A620 isn't one of Canon's 
newest cameras. However, recently, I've 
seen this camera available for less than 
$300, making it a great value. It isn't often 
that you find a 7-megapixel camera with a 
wide range of manual functions, an ad- 
justable LCD (liquid-crystal dis- 
play), and 4X optical zoom. 

Loaded 
With Features 

The A620 is in many 
ways a younger sibling 
to Canon's advanced G 
Series of digital cameras. The 
A620 shares much of the G Series' de- 
sign, including the swiveling LCD. You 
can flip the LCD out away from the 
camera and position it so that you have a 
clear view of the screen without doing ac- 
robatics to frame your shot. The swiveling 
LCD also works great for taking group 
photos and including yourself in the 
shot. Set the A620 up on a tripod or 
tabletop, flip the LCD around so it faces 
forward, and set the self-timer. With the 
LCD flipped forward, everyone can make 
sure that they are in the shot (and that 
the framing won't crop off the top of 
their heads). 

If you turn off the LCD, the A620 can 
shoot in Continuous mode at 1.9fps 
(frames per second) until the memory card 
is full. Also, this camera's auto focus is no- 
ticeably faster than that of the G Series 
cameras that came before the A620. 

The A620 can shoot movie clips (with 
audio) of up to one minute in length or 
1GB (gigabyte) in size. Three movie resolu- 
tions are available: 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 
240 pixels, or 160 x 120 pixels. Depending 
on which resolution you choose, the camera 
has frame rates of 15 to 60fps available. 

One of my favorite features of the A620 
is Sound Memo, which Canon has included 
in some of its higher-end PowerShots. 



With Sound Memo, you can attach a sound 
clip of up to 60 seconds to a still photo. I'd 
especially like to use Sound Memo when 
vacationing. I always take photos while 
sightseeing but then can't remember where 
I took the photo when I return home. 

Despite the A620's low price tag, I con- 
sider it one of Canon's high-end cameras 
because of its G Series-like design and full 
set of features (such as full manual mode, 
manual focus, and multiple exposure 
modes). Yet the camera has many things in 
common with some of Canon's smaller 
point-and-shoot cameras. For instance, the 
A620 takes four AA batteries instead of a 
proprietary Li-Ion battery pack. Also, this 
camera records images on an SD (Secure 
Digital) card rather than a CF (Com- 
pactFlash) card. While not as small as most 
SD cameras, the A620 is much smaller and 
lighter (just 8.3 ounces without batteries) 
than the G Series PowerShots. 

The A620 lacks a few features you'll find 
in Canon's G Series PowerShots. For in- 
stance, I was dismayed to see that Canon 
omitted both RAW and TIFF (Tagged Image 
File Format) modes from the A620. You can 
only shoot images in JPEG (Joint Photo- 
graphic Experts Group) mode. No lossless 
format is available. The A620 also lacks a hot 
shoe for an external flash, but a slave flash is 
available as a separate accessory. 

Hands On 

The A620's Auto White Balance mode 
was very accurate, resulting in true-to-life 
colors. I also noticed very few chromatic 
aberrations (purple halos around bright 
lights). The A620's macro mode let me 
shoot very sharp close-ups. 

The only real drawback I noticed was 
that the PowerShot A620 seems to demand 
a steadier hand than many other cameras 
its size. With the flash on, I got sharp 
photos, but even in moderate lighting, if I 
turned the flash off, I had to hold the 
camera quite steady. 

Overall, though, I wouldn't hesitate to 
recommend this camera to a friend who 
wants an easy-to-use point-and-shoot 
camera that has some additional high-end 
features. If you can find this camera for less 
than S300, it's a great bargain. II 



18 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Diaries 



Photo Overflow 

Powerful & Portable Media Storage 



Nathan Chandler 

Send insights and insults 

to Nathan at 

nathan@smartcomputing.com 




P-4000 Multimedia 
Storage Viewer 

$699.99 

Epson 

(800) 873-7766 

(562) 981-3840 

www.epson.com 



The magic of digital photography lets you 
take picture after picture, but only as long 
as you don't run out of flash card capacity. If 
you're in Montana shooting dramatic images 
of a charging grizzly and your 1GB card fills 
up, the entire picture-taking fun — well, per- 
haps that's not the right phrase for it — 
comes to a screeching halt. With the P-4000 
Multimedia Storage Viewer, however, Epson 
helps you keep shooting until your shutter 
finger screams for mercy. 

So, So Pretty 

Boiled down to bare bones, the P-4000 is 
just a portable 80GB hard drive wrapped in 
a bundle of extra features. Those features in- 
clude a 3.8-inch LCD (liquid-crystal display), 
rechargeable lithium-ion battery, support for 
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts 
Group) and RAW file formats, 
compatibility with MP3 and AAC 
(Advanced Audio Coding) audio, 
as well as MPEG-4 and Motion 
JPEG video clips. There are two 
flash card slots to accommodate 
the CompactFlash, MemoryStick, 
SmartMedia, xD Picture card, and 
Secure Digital formats. 
Those features add heft. The 
P-4000 is 3.3 inches high, 5.8 
inches wide, and 1.2 inches thick. With 
the battery installed, it weighs around a 
pound, and once you slide the P-4000 
into the included protective case, you'll 
see that it adds noticeable weight to your 
array of photographic tools, especially if 
you try to travel light. 

I started my tests by transferring 256MB 
of images stored on an SD card. The 
transfer time wasn't blazing fast — it took 
about two minutes — but the process was 
easy, and the P-4000 automatically created 
a folder named by date. This drive uses a 
basic hierarchal folder system to organize 
data, so after you move your files, it's gen- 
erally easy to click through folders until 



you find the data you want. Epson also 
provides a shortcut to the most recent data 
you transferred. 

File browsing was fairly quick and 
smooth, even when I loaded several giga- 
bytes of RAW and JPEG files. The P-4000 
did need a few moments to load thumb- 
nails, but for the most part, image browsing 
was a painless process. Colors were gor- 
geous and details were sharp, thanks to the 
ultra-clear monitor. 

To start a slideshow, all I had to do was 
select a folder of images and then watch as 
each image appeared in the order they were 
loaded onto the drive. Multiple transitions 
seamlessly display shot after shot, with au- 
tomatic panning and magnification that 
make this feature a ton of fun to use. I let 
the slideshow play continuously, and bat- 
tery power lasted for about three hours. 

I also loaded video clips taken with a 
point-and-shoot camera, and the P-4000 
let me immediately play those files, com- 
plete with audio. The device took only a 
few seconds to load each clip, and the video 
quality was good. MP3 playback was a bit 
awkward, but this process worked fine, too. 
These features are nice, but they come with 
zero frills, and although Epson markets this 
device as designed for its gamut of multi- 
media capabilities, it's clearly best for im- 
age storage and review purposes. 

Not Quite Perfect 

There were some notable restrictions in 
the P-4000's capabilities. JPEG handling 
worked just fine, but because of the tech- 
nology behind RAW files, you can't zoom 
in on these images to make sure they're 
sharp. And no matter how fresh your bat- 
tery's charge might be, you can't connect to 
a PC's USB port without the AC adapter. 
The reasoning here is that if the battery 
suddenly dies while connected, data or the 
internal memory might be permanently 
damaged; so forget connecting to a friend's 
PC if you forget to pack the power cord. 

Last but certainly not least, the P-4000 is 
very pricey. Although it's an excellent 
product for pros and enthusiasts with deep 
pockets, more casual users may want to 
check out the P-2000 ($500), which is basi- 
cally the same device with half the capacity. II 



Smart Computing / June 2006 19 



Software 
Head-To-Head 



Video Editors 



VideoStudio 9 

Poweilul video Erfittng Made Easy 




Movies Made Easy 

Four Video Editors To Consider 



Lots of recording, lots of cutting. That's 
all there is to creating great home 
movies and personal videos. 

Well, almost. It also helps to have a video 
editor. Such a program makes it easy to 
gather your footage, divide it into clips, 
identify the best ones, arrange them into an 
intelligible sequence, add effects, and com- 
pile the entire conglomeration into a fin- 
ished project. Lots of titles claim to support 
these tasks. We took a look at several of 
them to find the one that does it best. 



Mov'm 




Ulead VideoStudio 9 



Video-editing is nothing if not time-con- 
suming. The process of producing a home 
movie can take hours, if not days, of effort. 
That's fine when you're creating a presenta- 
tion for the family reunion or a retirement 
party, but not so fine when you simply 
want to combine a series of clips into 
something a little more pleasant to watch. 

That's where VideoStudio proves invalu- 
able. One of the program's three main com- 
ponents is the aptly named DV-to-DVD 
Wizard, which automatically divides the 
content into scenes, gives users the chance 
to select which scenes to include, and wraps 
it in one of 20 theme templates. The idea is 
that a user can build a complete video from 
capture to burn in a matter of minutes. 
Well, maybe not that fast. But faster than 
would be expected with other video editors. 
We really appreciated this option and bet a 
good number of users will, too. 

Of course, that's not all VideoStudio can 
do. The program also provides a Movie 
Wizard component, which is something 
like Windows Movie Maker. It offers core 
editing functionality in a back-to-the-basics 
interface for users who are long on video 
content but short on time or editing skills. 
Then there's the VideoStudio Editor, which 
delivers a broad range of advanced editing 



options, including overlay, voice, and 
music tracks; chroma key (aka green- 
screen) and more than a thousand other 
video effects; flash animation overlays; 
adjustable volume control; and 16:9 
widescreen support. 

We liked the fact that all of the editing 
features are presented in an intuitive seven- 
tab interface so that inexperienced users can 
take advantage of them. We also liked that 
Ulead provides a 218-page users manual for 
when questions arise and free phone-based 
support (to a toll number) when those 
questions get complicated. On the down- 
side, VideoStudio is short on editing tracks 
and lacks support for DivX (a popular video 
CODEC [compressor/decompressor] based 
on MPEG-4), and users must download a 
separate plug-in to gain support for MPEG- 
4 output and high-definition video input. 
We also noticed preview playback was slow 
and choppy at times. But many users will 
gladly suffer those deprivations for a pro- 
gram this easy to use. 



Magix Movie Edit Pro 1 1 



You may not be able to tell a book by its 
cover, but you certainly can tell a lot about 
a program by its interface. Indeed, when it 
comes to consumer-grade software, intu- 
itiveness is at least as important as sub- 
stance. Unfortunately, someone forgot to 
tell Magix that. The fact is that Movie Edit 
Pro 1 1 offers a great set of features but an 
awkward user experience. 

Take the installation. The process is 
straightforward but lengthy because we had 
to switch discs several times and click 
countless Next icons to keep things 
moving. Not at all like the effortless installs 
we enjoyed with Ulead VideoStudio and 
Adobe Premiere Elements. Then there's the 
users manual: It's quite thorough, weighing 
in at 124 pages of tight text, but lacks the 
numbered bullet points and numerous 
screenshots that make for easy reading. 
And the distinctive interface is neatly orga- 
nized, yes, but laid out in a way that differs 
just enough from the standard template for 
Windows-based software that it could 
prove intimidating and confusing to users 
who want to stay in their PC comfort zone. 

The editor also boasts broad function- 
ality. Among other things, the program 



20 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Reviews 




Buying Tips 

Before investing in standalone 
video-editing software, give 
Windows Movie Maker a try. 
The free utility, which comes 
bundled with Windows XP, al- 
lows a user to capture footage, 
compile it on a timeline, insert 
transitions and basic effects, 
and add a soundtrack. And 
it does it all for free. 



features Movie Show Maker, a wizard for 
creating fun movies in four easy steps; Song 
Maker, a wizard for adding audio tracks to 
a movie; an 8-track audio mixer; support 
for Surround Sound and 16:9 widescreen 
perspective; an array of audio, video, title, 
and fade effects; and a 16-track timeline for 
combining multimedia content into a 
seamless project (only Adobe Premiere 
Elements has more). As might have been 
expected, however, we had a little trouble 
figuring out how to use all these features. 
The users manual offered very little infor- 
mation about Song Maker and Mixer, for 
instance, and the built-in Help utility 
lacked a logical system for finding relevant 
information. Fortunately, phone and email 
support is available during limited hours 
for users who need extra assistance. 

In the end, Movie Edit Pro is a competi- 
tively priced editor that could hold some 
appeal for users who have more time than 
money and are willing to spend a few hours 
learning how to use the program. All others 
should consider something else. 



CyberLink PowerDirector 5 



Developed by Taiwan-based CyberLink, 
PowerDirector has yet to become a state- 
side mainstay. The latest version is unlikely 
to change the situation. 

Installation was a bit rough as the installer 
stopped three times to warn us that we 
needed to turn off Windows Messenger. 
Which we did. Three times. It also prompted 
us to turn off our antivirus software. Such 



advice is generally warranted, as any open 
application has the potential to interfere 
with an installation. Nevertheless, today's 
users have come to expect their software to 
install without such warnings. Installation 
was also quite slow and gave little indica- 
tion of whether it was progressing as 
it should. 

Once the program was up and running, 
things got better. The interface was less 
than intuitive with plenty of unlabeled 
icons and potentially intimidating menus, 
but the accompanying users manual was an 
easy read and covered all of the topics we 
had questions about (and that's good, con- 
sidering phone-based tech support costs 
$29.95 per two-month period). We liked 
the program's Magical Tools, which auto- 
matically undertake various editing func- 
tions — some of them quite tedious if 
executed manually. Magic Clean corrects 
insufficient lighting and eliminates un- 
wanted background noise such as echoes or 
wind, for instance, while Magic Fix stabi- 
lizes shaky images. Other Magical Tools ex- 
pedite the editing process by placing 
selected clips into preformatted templates 
and adding synchronized background 
music to a video. 

The program's advanced editing func- 
tions are quite nice, as well. It boasts 
six editing tracks, support for Picture- 
in-Picture, automatic scene detection, the 
standard wide selection of effects, and 
native support for DivX. We wish the time- 
line editing capabilities ran a little more 



Software Information 




Price 


Company 




Contact Information 


URL 


VideoStudio 9 
Movie Edit Pro 1 1 

PowerDirector 5 
Premiere Elements 2.0 


$99.99 

$59.99 

$89.95 
$99.99 


Ulead 
Magix 

CyberLink 
Adobe 




(510)979-7118 

(888) 326-2449 
(305) 642-6300 

(510)668-0118 

(800) 833-6687 
(408) 536-6000 


www.ulead.com 
www.magix.com 

www.cyberlink.com 
www.adobe.com 




Scorecard 






















Performance Features 


Ease Of Use 

5 
2 
4 
4 


nstallation 

5 
3 
3 
5 


Support/Documents 


Price 


Overall Score 
4.6/5 




VideoStudio 9 


4 4 
4 4 
4 4 
4 4 


5 
3 
4 
3 


4 
4 
4 
4 


Movie Edit Pro 11 


3.2/5 


PowerDirector 5 


3.8/5 


Premiere Elements 2.0 


4/5 



Smart Computing / June 2006 21 



Reviews 



% 



i 



"Adobe 
Premiere 
Elements 




$ w 



Buying Tips 

Users should make sure 

their PCs have the necessary 

equipment to accommodate 

all of the footage in their video 

libraries. That means a USB or 

FireWire port for capturing 

digital video footage, a video 

input card for capturing 

analog or TV footage, and 

maybe an extra hard drive to 

store all the content. 



smoothly — it was difficult to resize a clip or 
effect because the drag-and-drop function 
seemed to stall and jump — but overall per- 
formance was good. Good, but not good 
enough to gain PowerDirector the positive 
recognition it needs to overtake its more 
visible competitors in this country. 



Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 



Developed by the biggest name in desktop 
media productivity software, the consumer- 
oriented Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 stays 
true to its professional-grade roots by 
meeting or exceeding nearly all technical ex- 
pectations. However, many amateur videog- 
raphers will find the program too advanced 
for their needs and experience. 

The initial Premiere Elements experience 
is pleasant enough. Installation is a breeze, 
as is registration. When the program opens, 
users can click one of three clearly labeled 
icons to start a new project, open an ex- 
isting project, or capture new digital video. 
Easy, right? Then the interface hits. 

Obviously designed with the serious 
video enthusiast in mind, Premiere Ele- 
ments' self-adjusting multipanel interface is 
neatly organized and inclusive of all major 
editing functions. There's a Timeline panel 
that can accommodate as many as 99 
tracks, for instance, and an Effects And 
Transitions panel that includes a Favorites 
folder for tracking frequently used effects. 
It also features a Properties panel that al- 
lows users to modify the properties — such 
as scale, opacity, and audio volume — of a 
particular clip without affecting the rest of 
the project; native support for MPEG-4 
(though no comparable support for DivX); 
and other robust components that prove 
particularly useful for building im- 
pressive home movies one clip at 
a time. 

Users who prefer the get-in-and- 
get-done approach to movie mak- 
ing, however, will likely find 
Premiere Elements to be overkill, if 
not completely overwhelming. 
Rarely does the program automate 
a task users can do on their own 
(an impressive excep- 
tion is the smart 
capturing feature that 
automatically splits captured 



video into scenes and inserts them directly 
on the timeline in chronological order). 
And though the individual functions are 
actually quite easy to use, it takes time and 
patience to use them properly. Moreover, 
the program itself moves quite slowly. We 
found ourselves waiting while the program 
loaded and imported video clips, for in- 
stance, and project previews tended to 
stutter a little on playback. 

The bottom line with Adobe Premiere 
Elements — as with most Adobe products — 
is that it's aimed at users who want a wide 
array of technical resources at their disposal. 
And who do not need help. While the 244- 
page manual is quite good, phone-based 
tech support for noninstallation issues is 
available only at a rate of $159 per year. 

Should You Follow Ulead? 

For its ability to meet the needs of 
everyone from the newest newbie to the 
most enthusiast hobbyist, we selected 
Ulead VideoStudio as this month's Smart 
Choice. Keep in mind, however, that 
video-editing software is not a one-size- 
fits-all commodity. Rather, it must be ca- 
pable of producing movies that live up to a 
user's expectations while respecting that 
particular user's time and talents 

The only way to know whether a partic- 
ular product meets that exacting standard 
is by trying it out. All of the aforemen- 
tioned programs (except Magix Movie Edit 
Pro 11) are available on a free trial basis. 
We recommend taking advantage of these 
trials before making a decision. II 

by Jeff Dodd 



VideoStudio 9 

Powerful Video Editing Made Easy 




June 2006 

Smart Choice 

Ulead VideoStudio 9 



22 June 2006 / www.srnartcomputing.com 



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Software Reviews 



System Utilities 



Take Control Of Your PC 



Registry Mechanic 5.1 

$29.95 

PC Tools 

(800) 406-4966 

www.pctools.com 



f 
Vp Registry Mechanic 


_ □ X 
<\ Register Now <? Help 


j Select an Action 


) 


Scanning: Shared DLLs 








i fll 






W 1 


No - 




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a "---— 


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(Jj, Tools Software 




£ SOProb 


s E=?'- 











Scoreboard 



Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 4 
Installation 5 
Documentation 3 
Price 5 
Overall Score 4.4/5 



Few aspects of Windows inspire more trepi- 
dation than the Registry. This file, which 
maintains information about system and user 
preferences, is critical to your PC's operation. 
However, changes made over time by pro- 
grams, devices, and other components can 
leave the Registry bloated and corrupt, causing 
system slowdowns, crashes, and system failure. 
Coming to the rescue is Registry Mechanic. 
Even if you haven't noticed any system per- 
formance issues, there are real benefits in pur- 
chasing a Registry cleaner and running it on a 
regular basis. These programs 
help optimize system speed and 
performance. Additionally, a 
Registry cleaner can catch 
problems before they become 
so ugly that even a powerhouse 
like Registry Mechanic can't 
eradicate them. 

Registry Mechanic is built 
with novice and intermediate 
users in mind. It has a simple, 
straightforward interface offering 
three main operations: Scan Your Registry, 
Optimize Your System, and Compact Registry. 

The Big Gun 

The heavy hitter of Registry Mechanic is 
Scan Your Registry. This function reads the 
listings in your registry and compares them 
against your current system configuration, 
identifying obsolete, duplicate, and other 
problematic entries. It then presents its find- 
ings, categorizing problems by type and loca- 
tion and then ranking each problem by the 
likelihood it will cause trouble. 

You can decide whether to clean certain 
problems or have Registry Mechanic scrub them 
all away. Before it proceeds, Registry Mechanic 
makes a backup of the original Registry in case 
you subsequently discover Registry Mechanic 
has made unwelcome changes. 

Subtle Touches 

Registry Mechanic's second and third op- 
tions work less obviously to improve system 
performance. Optimize Your System applies 



a series of tweaks and patches to the Registry, 
each of which has the potential to improve 
system performance. These improvements 
affect a wide range of invisible operations. 

The option reduces the delay before 
Windows opens menus, defragments the boot 
file, and optimizes the Prefetcher Service. 
Optimize Your System option also instructs 
Windows to terminate stalled applications auto- 
matically at shutdown. This setting can improve 
the speed with which Windows shuts down but 
can cause data loss. If you have programs that 
are hanging during shutdown, resolve these 
problems before you use the Optimize Your 
System option. Compact Registry removes 
empty space in the Registry, which can improve 
performance. However, the value you'll gain 
from it will be highly system dependent. 

Expand Your Protection 

Registry Mechanic offers the Options 
button, which affords access to a variety of set- 
tings and options. One of these, Create A 
System Restore Point Before Repair (XP), is 
NOT enabled by default. We recommend all 
Windows XP users select this checkbox. If 
Registry Mechanic makes a change that renders 
your PC unbootable, WinXP will be able to re- 
vert to the moment before the cleaning session. 

Other settings include the ability to scan 
additional drives or locations for orphaned 
shortcuts, create ignore lists, and generate 
custom scanning sets. From the Options in- 
terface, you can also set Registry Mechanic to 
run at Startup or instruct it to repair problems 
automatically. Finally, you'll gain access to the 
program's run logs from this interface. 

Registry Mechanic's documentation is a bit 
spotty, but it's so easy and safe to use you 
shouldn't have too many questions. If your PC 
has become inexplicably bogged down, run 
your PC through a free, online Registry scan 
(www.pctools.com/registry-mechanic) or 
download the limited trial version of Registry 
Mechanic. After you discover how many prob- 
lems you have, you may find yourself running 
to purchase this excellent product. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



24 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Software Reviews 



Multimedia 



$34.95 

Acoustica 

support@acoustica.com 

www.acoustica.com 



Scoreboard 



Performance 5 
Ease Of Use 5 
Installation 5 
Documentation 5 
Price 4 
Overall Score 4.8/5 



fhPrintScreen 

$15 

Parade Distribution 

info@fhprintscreen.com 

www.fhprintscreen.com 



New Life For Old Cassettes & LPs 



Spin It Again 1 



f you have shoeboxes filled with old cassette 
tapes, or your album collection is lan- 
guishing in a corner, giving the word "dust 
jacket" new meaning, Spin It Again is for you. 
Designed solely to convert long-play (LP) al- 
bums, 45 RPM records, and cassette tapes to 
digital (MP3) format, Spin It Again is drawing 
raves from its users. The program couldn't be 
easier to use: Installation is quick and painless, 
and when you open the program, it presents 
you with a simple, user-friendly interface. 

Of course, you must connect a cassette 
player or a turntable before Spin It Again can 
perform its musical magic. Helpfully, the pro- 
gram's Hookup Wizard can walk you through 
the process with clear, illustrated instructions. 
If you need new equipment — for example, if 
your old needle is worn out — a Purchase 
Equipment button will lead you to a variety of 
resources. (Playback Equipment is not one of 
the categories, but one of Spin It Again's high- 
lighted sites, www.needledoctor.com, sells 
both turntables and cassette decks. Amazon 
.com is also a great place to look.) 




Once you are ready 
to rock, the Level 
Wizard will help you 
set the optimum re- 
cording levels, and a 
variety of features and 
options will let you 
control hiss and pop 
removal, track splitting, and output format, 
including iPod, MP3, or CD. Spin It Again 
even offers operational tips, such as how to 
prevent the tone arm on your turntable from 
skating toward the center of a record. 

Recording a big batch of albums or cas- 
settes will take time, as Spin It Again cannot 
speed up the playback process. However, it 
may become a sentimental journey you'll 
enjoy. Unless you have a player with audio- 
out jacks, your 8-tracks are probably toast, 
but those mix tapes you lovingly created and 
have saved since college will sound better 
than ever before. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



System Utilities 



Down & Dirty Screen Capture 
I 





..*s 


I 


Wha 


iocdioooino to soluplhe BASIC 

k the BASIC BEHAVIOR? 
OOO CTRL-ALT -P or if you click on 
on In the : laiMOfc task bar 






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IS 


Install BASIC BEHAVIOR 






la 


Lea.n abet advanced settings 






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Run Main interface 






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Close fhPrintScreen 







Scoreboard 



Performance 3 
Ease Of Use 2 
Installation 4 
Documentation 2 
Price 4 
Overall Score 3/5 



n the early days of personal computing, 
users could press the PRINT SCREEN key 
to print the visual display on their screens. 
Since then, third-party developers have cre- 
ated sophisticated programs that can print or 
capture not only your entire 
display, but also a portion 
thereof. fhPrintScreen is 
such a utility, but it lacks 
the elegance and sophistica- 
tion many of its peers offer. 
fhPrintScreen works via 
the Quick Launch Toolbar, 
where it will appear by de- 
fault if you do not uncheck the option during 
installation. (To turn on this toolbar, right- 
click the Windows Taskbar and select 
Toolbars and Quick Launch.) 

When you open fhPrintScreen after installa- 
tion, a cartoonish wizard display pops up. The 
wizard isn't well designed or even aptly 
named — it doesn't walk you through anything. 
It presents a variety of buttons from which you 



can initiate various operations. These include 
trying out the basic behavior (pressing CTRL- 
F-P, which sends the contents of your display 
to the printer), installing the basic behavior, 
and opening the main interface. 

From the main interface, you can adjust 
settings, create hotkeys, and print or save 
screen displays. However, the interface is 
poorly structured, with little indication of 
how each option works. 

This is not to say fhPrintScreen is without 
merit. If you want a one-click method to print 
or save online maps, driving instructions, or 
other displayed items, you may like this pro- 
gram. The price is certainly right, and we sus- 
pect if you play with fhPrintScreen a bit, you 
may be able to get past its quirks. If its capa- 
bilities interest you, download it and give it a 
try. Just don't expect the user-friendly func- 
tionality you may have found with other, 
more advanced screen-capture utilities. II 

by Jennifer Farwell 



Smart Computing / June 2006 25 



Staff Picks: Our Experts Pick The Best Hardware 




PC-380U2 

$27 and up (online price) 
Penguin Gear 
sales@penguin-gear.com 
www.penguin-gear.com 



Penguin Gear Aluminum External Enclosure 

I really didn't want to put another hard drive into 
my PC, but I needed more backup space. So did 
my wife, who needed a backup drive for her new 
laptop. I did, however, have a few perfectly 
good EIDE (Enhanced Integrated Drive 
Electronics) hard drives. The answer was to 
buy a couple of external hard drive enclosures. 
The Penguin Gear PG-380U2 turns EIDE drives 
into USB 2.0 external units. You can find it for 
about $27 and up at sites such as Newegg.com. 

Despite its low price, the Penguin Gear sur- 
prised me with its fit, finish, and functionality. 
Made of extruded, anodized aluminum, this 
pretty enclosure passively wicks heat away from 



your hard drive without using a fan. Rubber feet 
keep the sturdy, stackable case from vibrating 
against your desk. 

Besides a USB cable, the PG-380U2 comes 
with all it needs, from a power adapter to 
printed instructions. It's a little tricky to as- 
semble, so take your time. Depending on your 
hard drive, a USB 2.0 kit like this will limit its 
speed to about 31MBps (megabytes per second). 

Penguin Gear has made a solid, attractive en- 
closure that works very well. Here's proof: I 
bought another one for my mom. II 

by Marty Sems 



COMPUTERS 



Desktops <= $1,500 
Desktops > $1,500 
Notebooks <= $1,500 
Notebooks > $1,500 



tfgErcrarang 



Chad 
Josh 
Jennifer 
Andrew 



HP Pavilion Media Center TV m7330n HP $919.99 

Prelude Maingear $1,238.66 

Satellite A105-S2717 Toshiba $1,329.99 

Aurora m7700 Alienware $2,329 



www.hp.com 
www.maingear.com 
www.toshiba.com 
www.alienware.com 



Handhelds & PDAs 

Keyboards 
Mice/Trackballs/Trackpads 



Jennifer iPAQ hx2495 



HP 



$399.99 



www.hp.com 



Josh Cordless Desktop MX 3100 Logitech $149.95 

Kylee V400 Laser Cordless Mouse For Notebooks Logitech $49.99 



www.logitech.com 
www.logitech.com 



CRTs 

LCDs<= 19 inches 

LCDs> 19 inches 



PRNTERS 



Vince C90fB 

Josh VP920b 

Josh UltraSharp 2405FPW 



ViewSonic 
ViewSonic 
Dell 



$259 

$479.00 

$799.20 



www.viewsonic.com 
www.viewsonic.com 
www.dell.com 



Inkjet <= $150 


Nathan 


Deskjet 5940 Photo Printer 


HP 


$89.99 


www.hp.com 


Inkjet > $150 


Nathan 


PIXMA iP5200R 


Canon 


$229.99 


www.usa.canon.com 


Laser <= $200 


Sam 


ML-2550 


Samsung 


$179.99 


www.samsung.com 


Laser $200 to $500 


Sam 


3100cn 


Dell 


$399 


www.dell.com 


Laser > $500 


Sam 


5100cn 


Dell 


$849 


www.dell.com 


MFDs 


Sam 


MFC 9420CN 


Brother 


$799.99 


www.brother.com 




















Flash Memory & Portable 


Vince 


1GB Cruzer Profile 


SanDisk 


$99.99 


www.sandisk.com 


CD & DVD Drives 


Marty 


PX-755SA 


Plextor 


$129 


www.plextor.com 


Hard Drives 


Marty 


Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 


Western Digital 


$299.99 


www.westerndigital.com 


VIDEO/PHOTO 






Digital Camcorders <= $500 


Andrew 


DZ-MV780A 


Hitachi 


$449.98 


www.hitachi.us 


Digital Camcorders > $500 


Andrew 


DCR-SR100 30GB Handycam 


Sony 


$999.99 


www.sonystyle.com 


Digital Still Cameras 
Point & Shoot 


Kylee 


PowerShot S80 


Canon 


$549.99 


www.powershot.com 


Digital Still Cameras 
Adv./Prosumer 


Nathan 


Cyber-shot DSC-R1 


Sony 


$999.95 


www.sonystyle.com 


Graphics Cards <= $150 


Vince 


e-GeForce 7300GS 


EVGA 


$139.99 


www.evga.com 


Graphics Cards > $150 


Vince 


All-in-Wonder X1900 


ATI 


$499 


www.ati.com 





26 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Staff Picks 



Saitek Eclipse Keyboard 

A good keyboardist can tap out upward of 80 words 
per minute, but any typist will get tired fingers if he 
doesn't have a responsive, comfortable keyboard. 
The action on the Saitek Eclipse keyboard is so 
smooth that you may feel like you're typing on air. 

The Eclipse doesn't look like a typical keyboard. 
Many multimedia keyboards are loaded with var- 
ious buttons, dials, and scroll wheels. Saitek felt 
that less would be more. The keyboard has only 
four extra buttons: two volume buttons, a Mute 
button, and a fourth button to control the key- 
board backlighting. The keys are laser cut to show 
the letters in the dark, backlit by a bright blue 
glow. You can turn off the light if it's not your style. 



The keyboard also has 
a good heft to it so it 
won't slide around. 

More important 
than the look is its 
feel. The keys respond 
immediately to the 

slightest touch. This will take a little getting used 
to, and you may notice that you have more typos 
until you get used to the keyboard's sensitivity. 
Once you do get used to it, you'll be pounding 
out emails as fast as a pro. II 

by Michael Sweet 




Eclipse Keyboard 

$59.95 

Saitek 

(310)212-5412 

www.saitekusa.com 



An AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ processor is the heart of this system, which includes a single TV tuner and Windows XP Media Center. 

Maingear's Prelude entry-level gaming PC series offers some quality components and upgradability. 

This laptop has Centrino technology, 1GB of RAM, a TruBrite display, and a DVD burner. 

Comes with your choice of Athlon 64 FX or X2 processors, which makes it ideal for gaming or other high-end applications. 

This PDA has all of the right specs for my needs: Windows Mobile 5.0, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and integrated CF (CompactFlash) and SD (Secure Digital) card readers, for less than $400. 

The keyboard had plenty of media buttons, and the mouse has its own charge station. Goodbye, batteries. 

Finally, a notebook mouse that will work on almost any surface. Compared to an optical mouse, this laser mouse can track movement accurately on a wider range of surfaces. 

With more resolution than LCDs (liquid-crystal displays) of the same size, the G90fB will give you room for more windows on your Desktop. It's not too expensive, either. 
Sure, it has an 8ms response time and a 19-inch display, but what really matters is that its stand is very adjustable. 
At 24 inches, it's not the biggest kid on the block, but it's inexpensive and bright. It also has a three-year warranty. 

A solid all-purpose printer that will let you print panoramic photos. 

Fast printing speeds, excellent color quality, and best of all, built-in wireless networking. 

With speeds of up to 22ppm (pages per minute) and a 30,000 page duty cycle, this black-and-white laser printer can power through heavy workloads. 

For less than $400, you can have a printer with a 45,000 page duty cycle and the capability to hold 576MB of memory. 

A network-ready color laser printer that dishes out up to 35ppm black-and-white or 25ppm color. It also features a 90,000 page duty cycle. 

This MFD (multifunction device) includes a color laser printer that can dole out up to 31 monochrome or eight color pages per minute. It also features a 48-bit scanner and 33.6Kfax modem. 

Because it uses biometrics, I don't have to forget a password anymore. Plus, it has 1GB storage for less than $100. 
Fastest DL burning speed, SATA, and an unusually low price (for Plextor). 
Updated for outrageous speed and a more respectable capacity. 

A quality affordable camcorder that records to DVDs, making sharing your videos very easy. 

This camcorder features 30GB of built-in memory, enough that you don't have to mess with cassettes or discs. Perfect for the all-digital video freak. 

This compact 8-megapixel camera has a wide-angle lens (equivalent to 28 to 100mm on a film camera) and many of the advanced settings typical of higher-end cameras. 

With a superb lens and great image quality, it proves there's still room for fixed-lens cameras in this price range. 

Upgrading to Windows Vista will probably mean upgrading your graphics card. This is a cheap way to do it. 

Not only is it an awesome graphics card, its PVR (Personal Video Recorder) feature turns your PC into a TiVo without the monthly fee. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 27 



i*o 



Windows 




TIPS & TRICKS 



Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview 



Microsoft seems to be introducing a new category 
of operating system: The Keep-Upgrade. 

Take Windows Vista, the new version of Windows 
expected (as of press time) early next year. Many of 
Windows Vista's features — such as computer-wide 
search, ways to view all open windows on the Desktop, a 
built-in calendar that integrates with built-in email, 
little graphical applications, and the ability to function 
as the control center of your home entertainment 
system — are variations of features and functionality in- 
troduced two years ago in Apple's OS X. 

Then consider Internet Explorer 7, the new browser 
that will ship with Windows Vista. IE7's list of "new" 
features includes tabbed browsing, a simpler way to 
erase your Web-surfing footsteps, a built-in RSS (Really 
Simple Syndication) reader, and address bars in every 



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IE 7's better-late-than-never tabbed browsing includes a Quick Tabs 
button that displays thumbnails of the page in each open tab. 

window, all of which you may recognize from Firefox, 
Netscape, and Opera. 

To be fair, IE7 does have a couple of new features all of 
its own. Much more important, however, is that IE re- 
mains the browser for which most Web site designers de- 
sign and test their Web sites. So once IE7 becomes 
available, you'll probably want to download and use it, 
perhaps even alongside other browsers. Until then, you 
may want to download and try the IE7 for Windows XP 
Beta 2 Preview to get a hands-on sneak peek at what the 
new browser can do. 



Remember, It's Still In Beta 

Of course, before you download, you need to know 
two things. First, when you install the IE7 Beta 2 
Preview, you won't be able to access the version of IE 
already installed on your computer. Second, because 
it's beta, or unfinished and still being tested, software, it 
may not work as reliably as its predecessors. We en- 
countered such issues as overall slow performance and 
an inability to run a RealPlayer plug-in. 

Consequently, our advice is that if you depend daily 
on IE — for example, if you must use IE to log in to a 
work application — you may want to limit your IE7 pre- 
viewing to reading this article. If you can do most of 
your browsing with Firefox, Netscape, or Opera, install 
one of those browsers first and then install the IE7 beta. 
You can always uninstall IE7 and revert to IE6 if need 
be; see the instructions at the end of this article. 

Fire It Up 

If you decide to download the preview, back up any 
important files. Point your browser to www. micro 
soft.com/windows/ie/ie7/ie7betaredirect.mspx and 
click Download. Save the file to an easy-to-remember 
location; then, from that place, double-click the setup 
file (IE7B2P-WindowsXP-x86-enu.exe) and click Run. 
Click past the screen that recommends backing up im- 
portant files, validate your version of Windows, and in- 
stall the latest updates for IE when prompted. The beta 
installation will begin shortly thereafter. 

If you've installed Microsoft AntiSpyware (also called 
Windows Defender) during the IE7 beta installation, 
you'll see a few warnings as IE7 temporarily changes 
your home page and other navigation pages. Accept 
these changes and let the installation continue. Restart 
your computer when prompted. 

The first page you'll see is the Customize Your 
Settings page, where you can turn on IE's new Phishing 
Filter, specify your location, and join Microsoft's 
Customer Experience Improvement program, which 
collects anonymous data from your machine (anony- 
mous or not, we passed on this). Click the new Home 
Page button the first time, and you'll be taken to 
Microsoft's IE home page; click it again, and any time 
thereafter, and you'll be taken to whatever default 
home page you specified in IE6. 



28 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 





New Look, New Features 

IE7's design differences don't exactly jump out, but 
once you start surfing, they're apparent. For example, 
the new, unlabeled Back and Forward buttons and the 
Address and Search bars are now above the menu. Just 
below the menu is something else that's new (at least to 
IE): tabbed browsing pages. Click the button to the 
right of the tab(s), and IE opens another, to a blank 
page, which you can populate by entering another ad- 
dress in the Address bar. 

To the left of the tabs is the new Quick Tabs button. 
Click it, and IE7 displays thumbnails of all your tabbed 
pages, any of which you can click to move to the corre- 
sponding page. On the right of the tabs is IE7's new 
Feeds button, which tells you if an RSS feed is available 
from the page you're viewing and makes subscribing to 
them easy. When the Feeds button turns red, click the 
arrow next to it and select the desired feed; on the page 
that appears, click Subscribe to this feed, which adds 
the feed to your list. Curiously, to view your feeds, you 
have to click the Favorites Center button and click the 
Feeds tab. 

Click the new Tools button, and you'll see the new 
Delete Browsing History command, which takes you to 
a window that lets choose what browsing "tracks" to 
clean up. You can also delete them all at once using the 
Delete All button. 

More Security Features 

Once you install IE7, there's something you'll never 
not see again: your Address bar. Unlike its predecessors, 
IE7 locks the Address bar in place; spyware and adware 
can't move or remove it. IE7 even displays the Address 
bar on any pop-up windows that sneak through the pop- 
up blocker or that you allow to display. 

All-the-time Address bar display is just most visible of 
I 7's security improvements. ActiveX, which creates a 
vulnerability that malicious code authors love to exploit, 
no longer runs amok. According to Microsoft, IE7 dis- 
ables virtually every ActiveX control you haven't already 
specifically enabled and then prompts you for permis- 
sion whenever a program wants to enable a new control. 
IE7 also includes a new phishing filter that checks the 
URLs of Web sites against lists of known fraudulent sites 
and checks site content for characteristics common to 
fraudulent sites. 

IE7 offers many more security and privacy features and 
improvements, far too many to list here. Visit Microsoft's 
Internet Explorer 7 home page (www.microsoft.com/win 
dows/ie/ie7/default.mspx) for more information. 



Easier On The Eyes, On-Screen & In Print 

With IE7, you can zoom in on, or out of, any Web 
page; just hold down the CTRL key and roll your mouse 
wheel forward or backward. A feature previously offered 
only in Opera, this is a big help when you're straining to 
read tiny Web type or trying to fit a wide page into the 
width of a browser window. 

On the topic of fitting wide Web pages into tight 
spaces, IE7 adds another feature that will thrill anyone 
who ever unsuccessfully tried to print an allegedly 



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A new Feeds button (top right) tells you which feeds are available from 
the current page; once you subscribe to a feed, you can get to it directly 
from the new Favorites Center pane (left). 

printer-friendly Web page: It can automatically shrink 
any Web page to fit the width of your print margins. 
This means you no longer have to suffer truncated Web 
page printouts. And when you select a specific region of 
a Web page for printing, IE7's Print Preview finally dis- 
plays only that region, so that you can preview your se- 
lection exactly as it will appear in print. 

If You've Seen Enough 

While these and other IE7 features will be tough to give 
up, our guess is that once you've had a look, you'll want to 
switch back to IE6 and wait for the final product. If this is 
the case, click Start, choose Control Panel, and click Add 
Or Remove Programs. Select Show Updates and then 
scroll to the very bottom; under Windows XP - Software 
Updates, click Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview and click 
Remove. You'll be returned to the IE you remember, as 
uninstalling IE7 will automatically bring back IE6. II 

by Mark Scapicchio 



Smart Computing / June 2006 29 



i*o 



Windows 




TIPS & TRICKS 



Using The Windows 98 
Device Manager 



Windows 98's Device Manager lists all the devices 
installed in or connected to your PC, such as 
your CD drive, printer, and mouse. It can show you at a 
glance if any devices are malfunctioning or not installed 
properly. It can also tell you what driver version each 
device is using (a driver is a file or group of files that lets 
Windows use a device) and let you change some settings 
if you need to troubleshoot a problem. 

If it sounds like the Device Manager is a neighbor- 
hood you should be familiar with, you're right. Here 
are some directions to it, along with some sights to 
see and troubleshooting suggestions to try while 
you're there. 



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To open the Device Manager in 
Win98, right-click My Computer. 
Choose Properties and the Device 
Manager tab. Alternatively, you can 
click Start, Settings, Control Panel, 
System, and the Device Manager tab. 
Other recent Windows versions, 
such as WinMe/2000/XP, also have 
Device Managers you can access with 
similar steps. 

You'll see a list of device categories, 
sorted by type. Click the plus (+) sign 
next to a category, such as Display 
Adapters. This will reveal the devices 
currently connected to your computer 
in that category, such as an ATI 
Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics adapter. It also can tell 
you the real name of the mechanism or chipset inside a 
device, which may differ from the model number or 
brand on the product's label. 

If any devices are causing problems for your system, 
the Device Manager will show it with either a red X or 
a yellow circle icon with a black exclamation point. The 
red X means that the device has been disabled 
or doesn't work for some reason. The yellow icon 
means that Windows recognizes the device, but it 
wasn't installed properly or its driver has a problem. To vice that's giving you trouble, follow the directions to 



As soon as you open the Device 
Manager, you'll see whether any devices 
aren't working correctly. They'll have 
yellow caution icons or red Xs. 



troubleshoot a problematic device, you'll need to look 
at its Properties in the following section. 

Other buttons on the Device Manager tab include 
Refresh, which updates the list to reflect recent changes; 
Remove, which you can use to uninstall a device; and 
Print, which tells your printer to give you a hard copy 
of a device summary. 

Properties 

Double-click a device to open its Properties panel or 
click the device once to select it and then click the 
Properties button. You'll see one or more tabs, de- 
pending on the device. 

General. The General tab gives you 
some basic information such as the 
manufacturer and version number of 
a device, if the product reports these. 
One point of interest is the Device 
Status window in the center of the 
panel, which tells you whether the 
gadget is working. If not, you may see 
Windows' guess as to the cause of the 
trouble, such as a missing or incorrect 
driver, and perhaps a button such as 
Reinstall Driver or Enable Device. 

Speaking of enabling, there's a 
checkbox near the bottom of the tab la- 
beled Disable In This Hardware Profile. 
If you want to shut off a device for 
some reason, such as if it's interfering 
with some other part of your com- 
puter, here's the on/off switch to use. Disabling hardware 
keeps Windows from trying to use it without requiring 
you to physically remove the device from your PC. 

Driver. When a friend or tech support guru advises 
you to make sure you have the latest drivers for a 
graphics card or other component, click the device's 
Driver tab. Here, you'll find the date of the drivers cur- 
rently installed for the device. Click Driver File Details 
for the version number. 

If the manufacturer's site offers a later driver for a de- 



30 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




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Double-click a problem device to 
see its Properties panel. Windows 
will tell you what it thinks is 
wrong, and it may suggest a fix. 



download the driver file and install it. Generally, after you 
download a driver file, you double-click it to install the 
new driver. If an installation wizard doesn't appear, indi- 
cating that the download isn't an executable file, click the 
Driver tab's Update Driver button to tell Windows to 

look for the new driver in 
the folder in which you 
saved the download. 

Resources. This tab lets 
you change a few settings 
that Win98 normally 
manages by default. You'll 
only change resource set- 
tings in rare cases, such as 
if you're trying to get your 
sound card to work with 
an old DOS application or 
game or your PC has an 
inordinately large number 
of devices attached to it. 

To change resource 
settings, deselect Use 
Automatic Settings. Dou- 
ble-click a setting, such as 
Interrupt Request (IRQ), Direct Memory Access, or 
Input/Output Range, and choose a different value. 
Click OK twice and Yes twice, and your PC will restart. 
Note that Win98 won't let you change some settings. 
Also, you might cause a conflict between two devices 
that can't share an IRQ. If your changes don't solve 
your problem, reselect Use Automatic Settings. 

Settings. This tab varies by device. Optical drives' 
Settings tabs have a few items of interest, especially the 
firmware version and the Auto Insert Notification 
checkbox. If you uncheck the latter, your PC will stop 
asking you what you want to do with every CD or DVD 
you insert into the drive. On the other hand, if you've 
already told Windows to perform certain functions 
when you insert a disc, such as to automatically play 
the music on an audio CD, disabling Auto Insert 
Notification will shut off this feature, too. 

Internal hard drives and optical drives have DMA 
(direct memory access) checkboxes in their Settings 
tabs. If DMA is deselected, a drive may seem to run 
very slowly. However, you should verify that your spe- 
cific model of hard or optical drive can support DMA 
data transfers (most made since the late 1990s can) be- 
fore you enable this checkbox. Some old systems refuse 
to recognize a drive after a mistake like this and won't 
let you easily disable DMA again. 

Some devices have more technical settings that you 
should only change under specific troubleshooting 




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advice from Microsoft, a hardware manufacturer, or 
another trusted source. For example, under System 
Devices, the PCI Bus, Numeric Data Processor, Direct 
Memory Access Controller, and others have specialized 
Settings tabs. Actually, the System Devices category is 
generally better left alone unless you have a good 
reason to change something. Devices listed here allow 
Windows to interact with your computer's mother- 
board, CPU, and other basic components. An incorrect 
setting here could prove difficult to fix. 

Port Settings. An old, external, dial-up modem might 
use a 9-pin serial communications (COM) port on your 
PC. The Port Settings tab, available under Ports (COM 
& LPT) and Communications Port (COM1), lets you 
tweak some values such as Bits Per Second and Parity in 
order to get a serial device to work. 

Ghosts In The Machine 

If you've installed and 
uninstalled several devices 
over the years, Win98 
may still be loading dri- 
vers for hardware you no 
longer use. You can get 
rid of these resource hogs 
in Safe Mode. To work in 
Safe Mode, restart the PC 
and hold down CTRL or 
F8 during the boot pro- 
cess. Use the arrow keys 
to choose Safe Mode from 
the list of options and 
press ENTER. 

In Safe Mode, Device 
Manager may show you 
several ghost devices no 
longer installed in the PC 

along with the normal list of components that are still 
attached. Right-click the devices you're sure you no 
longer use and then click Remove and OK. Our test 
computer showed 19 nonsystem devices during normal 
use, but revealed 26 such devices in Safe Mode. That 
meant there were seven entries we could delete, which 
reclaimed a little wasted RAM and CPU cycles. 

With a working knowledge of the Device Manager, 
you can troubleshoot many more problems in Win98. 
That means more control over your PC and more en- 
joyment when you use it. Hey, we could all use more of 
that, couldn't we? II 

by Marty Sems 



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The Auto Insert Notification feature 
in a CD or DVD drive's Settings 
tab allows Windows to do 
something automatically when 
you insert a disc, such as to play a 
movie DVD or to open a folder 
showing the disc's contents. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 31 



i*o 



Windows 



TIPS & TRICKS 



Troubleshoot Your WinXP 
Network With Ipconfig & Ping 



It's probably happened to you at least once — you sit 
down in front of the computer to browse the Web or 
check email, only to discover that your system doesn't ap- 
pear to be connected to the Internet. 

That's an easy conclusion to come to, but it's a bit 
more difficult to figure out exacdy why you can't connect 
and what you should do to fix it. Windows XP includes 
two network utilities, Ipconfig and Ping, that can help. 
Although both are command-line utilities, both can be 
enormously helpful in identifying the cause of and 
solving a network problem. 

Ipconfig 

Whenever you're having a problem connecting to 
the Internet, the first step toward resolving the problem 
is to verify that your system has a valid IP (Internet 
Protocol) address. This is easily accomplished using 
Ipconfig (IP Configuration), a utility that lets you de- 
termine whether TCP/IP (Transmission Control 
Protocol/Internet Protocol; a language that controls 
communications among computers on the Internet) is 
running and correctly configured on your computer. 

To run Ipconfig, you need to first access a command- 
line window, which you can do by clicking Start and then 
Run, typing CMD, and pressing ENTER. In the com- 
mand line window, type IPCONFIG and press ENTER to 
see basic IP configuration data for each network adapter 
installed on your system. This information includes the 
adapter's IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway. 

Most home computers are connected either directly 
to a cable/DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modem or to a 
router (which in turn is connected to the cable/DSL 
modem) and typically get their IP addresses automati- 
cally from one of those devices (the one it's directly 
connected to) via DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration 
Protocol). When TCP/IP is correctly configured, you 
should see entries under all three Ipconfig headings: IP 
Address, Subnet Mask (almost always 255.255.255.0), 
and Default Gateway. In most cases when there's a 
router on your network, the computer's IP and default 
gateway addresses will both begin with 192.168 — only 
the last numbers of the address should be different. 



Identifying Problems 

There are a number of warning signs in Ipconfig that 
indicate an IP configuration problem. If Ipconfig reports 
your network adapter's IP address as 0.0.0.0 or if the ad- 
dress starts with 169.254, it usually indicates that your 
system requested an IP address but didn't get one for 
some reason, which does happen from time to time. To 
manually issue a new address request, type IPCONFIG/ 
RELEASE to reset the connection; when the command 
prompt reappears, type IPCONFIG/RENEW. In many 
cases, this will resolve the connection problem, but an- 
other option is to right-click the adapter's icon in 
Network Connections and choose Repair. This will not 
only reset and renew the IP address request, but also dis- 
able and re-enable the adapter itself. 




Running Ipconfig from a command prompt will display basic 
configuration information for all your system's network adapters 

If your adapter doesn't list any IP information but in- 
stead reports Media Disconnected, it probably means 
your network cable has become detached or that the 
router or cable/DSL modem at the other end of the cable 
isn't plugged in or powered on. (In the case of a wireless 
network adapter, this message means that you're not 
connected to the wireless network.) You'll need to rectify 
these issues before attempting to obtain an IP address. 

Ping 

Ping is a simple utility that tests the network connec- 
tion between two computers. This makes it an extremely 



32 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




valuable tool to help isolate a connectivity problem and 
determine whether it lies with your equipment, your 
ISP's (Internet service provider's) equipment, or some- 
where on the ISP's network. 

Once you've used Ipconfig to make sure your sys- 
tem's IP configuration is correct, the next step is to use 
Ping to methodically test the connection along various 
points along the link from your computer to the 
Internet. As with Ipconfig, it's best to launch a com- 
mand line window, so the results of the command stay 
on your screen long enough for you to read them. If 
you use a software firewall, it's also important to dis- 
able it before using Ping because the default configura- 
tion of most software firewalls will suppress Ping 
responses, rendering it useless as a diagnostic tool. 

Step 1. The first link in the chain to ping is your com- 
puter's internal TCP/IP connection. You can do this by 
typing PING, a space, and then 127.0.0.1. Press ENTER. 
The address 127.0.0.1, also known as the loopback, is a 
special address which is a stand-in for your computer's 
real IP address. Alternatively, you can enter your com- 
puter's actual IP address or localhost — all three are 
equivalent. After you execute the Ping command, you 
should receive four replies in rapid succession formatted 
as follows: Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<lms 
TTL=128 followed by some summary information. (If 
you ping your actual IP address, the response will come 
from that address instead of the loopback.) 

Step 2. The next link to test is the connection between 
your computer and the router or the cable/DSL device it's 
connected to. In either case this device is known as your 
default gateway — its IP address can be found under that 
heading when you run Ipconfig. (If your system is con- 
nected to a router, the address is usually 192.168.1.1 or 
192.168.0.1, but if your system is connected directly to a 
cable/DSL modem, it may be something else.) When you 
ping your network's default gateway, you should receive 
four prompt replies from that address, much as you did 
when you tested your system's internal connection. If you 
don't get those replies and instead receive Destination 
Host Unreachable or Request Timed out, it probably 
means that the device is disconnected or malfunctioning. 
Checking the network and power cables and/or restarting 
the device will often clear up the problem. 

Step 3. If you were testing the connection to a router in 
the previous step, the next connection to test is the one to 
your cable/DSL modem. (If your system is connected di- 
rectly to your cable/DSL modem, skip this step.) When a 
cable/DSL modem is connected to a router instead of to a 
PC, you can't get its IP address via Ipconfig. The best way 
to get it is to log in to your router's administration console 
and look it up on the router's status screen. It's usually 



listed as the Internet or WAN address, but because 
routers vary as to where they display this information, 
check your device's manual on how to find it.) 

After you've located your cable/DSL device's IP address, 
ping it just as you did the previous addresses. If you don't 
get replies, check the network and power cables and 
restart both your cable/DSL modem. If this doesn't restore 
your connection, a call to your ISP is probably warranted. 

Step 4. After you've successfully pinged all the de- 
vices on your premises, the final step is to try to ping an 
address on the Internet. (Trying to access a Web page is 
often a reliable indicator of connectivity, but it isn't 




Pinging the special 1 27.0.0.1 address verifies that TCP/IP 
(Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is working 
correctly on your system. 

conclusive because the problem could be with your 
browser or the specific site.) 

To verify that your system is reaching the Internet, 
ping a Web site you frequently visit. It's not necessary to 
know the actual IP address of the site; using a friendly 
name such as Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) is fine. Because 
you're only trying to verify a connection to the Internet, 
not necessarily a specific site, you don't need to include 
www in the address; it doesn't matter if you do include 
it, though the reply might appear to come from a slightly 
different address from the one you pinged depending on 
how the site has been set up. To do so, at the command 
prompt, type ping yahoo.com and press ENTER. 

Many major Web sites intentionally don't reply to 
pings. If you don't get a reply when pinging a site, check to 
see whether the response includes the site's numerical IP 
address. If it does, this indicates your Internet connection 
is working because that address must be looked up from a 
DNS (Domain Name Server) on the Internet. If you don't 
get a reply to a ping command and the response doesn't 
include the IP address of the site you pinged, it probably 
means your ISP is having network problems, and you'll 
need to get in touch with it. II 

by Joseph Moran 



Smart Computing / June 2006 33 



^o 



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General Computing 



PGP To Be 

Surely Secure 

How Pretty Good Privacy Protects Your Data 




Today's selection of file-related security 
programs is vast, but years ago, only a 
handful of utilities let users encrypt 
files and perform other security- 
related tasks. One of those was PGP (short for 
Pretty Good Privacy), a program that spread like 
wildfire in the early '90s as a go-to source for 
everyday file encryption. 

Although PGP now has plenty of competition 
in the encryption realm, PGP Desktop Home 9.0 
($99; www.pgp.com) remains an effective tool for 
securing files, entire hard drives, and even instant 
messages. Unlike many basic encryption tools, 
PGP Desktop Home 9.0 employs public key cryp- 
tography, which is technology that stretches be- 
yond the concept of plain password protection. 

This system uses a public key, which it can 
send to anyone or store on a keyserver, such 
as PGP's own PGP Global Directory (https:// 
keyserver-beta.pgp.com), an electronic public 
directory that serves as a repository for public 
keys. The public key is useless without the corre- 
sponding private key, which remains only on 
your computer. Using this system, someone can 
encrypt a file using your public key, but only you 
can read it because only your private key can 
decrypt your public key. 

Hassle-Free Security 








i;r>(cTTff 
< ■ yS s7 ' $■ eie-it 



If not executed properly, public key 
encryption can be unwieldy and full of 
hassles, but PGP Desktop Home 9.0 
streamlines the encryption process so that 
it's as painless and transparent as possible. 
After all, most users wouldn't bother to se- 
cure most, if any, files if they had to jump 
through hoops to do it, so this program au- 
tomates many processes to spare you from 
such headaches. 



For example, previous iterations of 
PGP used plug-ins to work with spe- 
cific email clients, but PGP Desktop 
Home 9.0 now uses proxy technology, 
which can automatically encrypt, 
sign, decrypt, and verify email mes- 
sages sent and received using most 
email clients. Of course, using PGP 
doesn't mean you need to encrypt 
every email that leaves your computer 
because the program lets you specify 
encryption based on particular recipi- 
ents, domains, message priority, or 
message content. These variables are 
relatively easy to configure and in- 
clude plenty of options, such as the 
ability to instruct PGP to automati- 
cally search for recipients' keys. 

PGP also includes encryption for 
AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) text 
messages and file transfers, but like 
the mail service, the people you're 
communicating with also need to be 
using a current version of PGP. If 
you're both using PGP and enable en- 
cryption, all your conversations and 
attachments are automatically en- 
crypted and decrypted and you won't 
even realize it's happening. As instant 
messaging becomes an ever-more 
vital means of communication, this 
feature can finally let you divulge per- 
sonal and financial information 
without worrying that your chats 
might be intercepted. 

Failsafe File Protection 

In its most basic form, PGP Desk- 
top Home 9.0 protects files — and 
protects them well. PGP Zip, which is 
part of PGP Desktop Home 9.0, lets 
you create encrypted, compressed 
archives of files that you can dis- 
tribute or use as backups of files on 
your hard drive. These archives can 
contain multiple files or just a single 
file, but even if you want to encrypt 
just a single file, you'll need to create 
an archive to do it. 

Once created, you can choose to 
protect archives using public key se- 
curity, or you can opt instead to pro- 
tect them using a passphrase that lets 



36 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



General Computing 



people without PGP open them. 
If you use a passphrase, a dialog 
box displays the quality, or strength, 
of your passphrase as you type it. 
But like using other encryption 
methods, the passphrase method isn't 
quite as reliable as public keys if you 
intend to distribute archives because 
you'll need to distribute the pass- 
phrase, as well. 

Creating a PGP key is a simple 
process that involves clicking a few 
buttons and typing some information 
in dialog boxes, including your name, 
primary email address, and pass- 
phrase. PGP's Global Directory Assi- 
stant will help you place your key on 
the Global Directory, after which 
you'll receive a confirmation email to 
confirm the placement of the key in 
the directory. After your key appears, 
people will be able to search for your 
key by name, email address, or key 
ID. If you choose not to make your 
key public initially, you can do so 
at any time by visiting the Global 
Directory and manually uploading 
your key. 

PGP also lets you encrypt an entire 
hard drive, a process that uses sector- 
level encryption to guarantee the 
complete encryption of all stored 
data. This feature can be useful for 
second or third drives on desktop ma- 
chines, but it's especially handy for 
protecting mobile computers. After 
all, if you encrypt your notebook 
computer's entire drive and the 
system gets stolen, the thief will be 
unable to access any of the data on 
your hard drive. 

A similar feature is PGP Virtual 
Disk, which lets you create new, en- 
crypted drive partitions where you 
can keep all of your sensitive files. 
Even if this volume exists on a hard 
drive that's unencrypted, the volume 
remains locked until you unlock it, 
and you can also specify a length of 
idle time that the drive remains un- 
locked before it automatically locks. 
When you access the files, PGP au- 
tomatically and transparently de- 
crypts them and encrypts them again 



when they're closed, so even when 
the volume is open, the files remain 
encrypted. Like the PGP archives, 
you can protect virtual partitions 
by using public and private keys 
or passphrases. 

For files you no longer need, PGP 
also includes a shredding utility 



uaaUa 



'*-- -'>=-' -•>-'""■- 



to wipe with anywhere from three 
passes up to 26 passes. 

Consider Encryption 

Even if you're using antivirus soft- 
ware, antispyware, and a properly 
configured firewall, your data is still 
at risk when transfer- 
ring it via email, file 







spaoe (here is on a volume, 

■".','■: ■. ■ v ■! i ■ :; . : : : . :>:>:! ■ . . . : 

wiped 



Wipe dri* 
□ Wipe NTF5 internal data si 



<Back || 



Because files you delete 
don't actually leave 
your hard drive, PGP's 
Free Space Wipe Assistant 
can help ensure that 
deleted files are truly 
gone for good. 



(aptly called PGP Shredder) that 
overwrites files anywhere from three 
to 28 times. This procedure perma- 
nently erases files, unlike files emp- 
tied from the Windows Recycle Bin, 
which can remain on your hard drive 
even after deleted and can be recov- 
ered using file recovery software. To 
erase files you already deleted using 
standard deletion, PGP's Free Space 
Wipe Assistant will erase the deleted 
data stored on any of your hard 
drives, again giving you the option 



sharing programs, in- 
stant messaging ap- 
plications, and other distribution 
methods. Further, none of these pro- 
grams will stop anyone from ac- 
cessing your files on your desktop or 
notebook computer in person. PGP 
Desktop Home 9.0 ensures that your 
files are accessible to only you and 
any recipients that you designate 
using technology that won't put a 
cramp in your computing style. II 

by Christian Perry 



Protect Your Mobile Devices 



Atone time, PGP 
Corp. sold a 
product called PGP 
Mobile, which provided 
encryption for devices 
using Palm OS and Win- 
dows CE, but the com- 
pany has since pulled 
the product from the 
market. Although we 
haven't been able to find 
out why the company 
stopped selling this useful 
utility, many mobile users 



continue to seek PGP 
Mobile software to gain 
the same stalwart secu- 
rity that desktop and 
notebook users enjoy. 
While you might be 
lucky enough to unearth 
atrial version of PGP 
Mobile, you'll be out of 
luck when the trial ends 
because PGP no longer 
supports the product. 
However, that doesn't 
mean you can't utilize 



encryption on your 
handheld device; there 
are now other applica- 
tions available that 
provide features similar 
to those found in the 
now-deceased PGP 
Mobile. Check out Soft- 
Winter's Sentry 2020 
for PocketPC ($49.95; 
www.softwinter.com) 
and Proporta's ProLock 
for Palm OS ($10.43; 
www.proporta.com). I 



Smart Computing / June 2006 37 



General Computing 



Which File Goes 
With Which 
Application? 

Common File Associations & How To Change Them 



One of the nice things about 
Windows is that when you 
double-click a file, such as a 
document or a video, an app launches 
to open that document or play that 
clip. Because of this, you can easily see 
that DOC word processing files are as- 
sociated with Word (or AbiWord, or 
OpenOffice.org) and that MPG video 
files are associated with QuickTime (or 
Windows Media Player, or another 
video -enabled utility). 

We've become a little spoiled with 
this feature, though, and we occasion- 
ally run into a problem when a new ap- 
plication or update makes a different 
program open certain files when you 
double-click them. For instance, if you 
use PowerDVD to play DVDs on your 
computer but you install Nero 7 
with its default settings, you'll find 
that Nero Showtime now appears 
instead of PowerDVD when you 
insert a movie disc. 

In order to change things back 
to the way they were, you need to 
adjust your file associations. Our 
directions will help you designate 
which app you want to open each 
type of file and then set that app as 
the default program. 

Typical Cases 

In most cases — regardless of 
whether you're using Windows 
XP, 2000, Me, or 98— you can 
right-click a file and choose Open 
With. In Win98 you may have to 



38 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



click a file once to select it and then 
hold down the SHIFT key as you right- 
click the file to see the Open With op- 
tion. Depending on the file, Win2000/ 
XP users may see a short list of pro- 
grams next to the Open With option in 
the context menu; select one of these or 
click Choose Program. 

The Open With dialog box that ap- 
pears in Win98/Me/2000/XP is the 
same one you see when Windows tries 
to open a particular file type for the 
first time. If you're sure you've selected 
the correct program, select the Always 
Use This Program To Open This Type 
Of File checkbox (or a similar option). 

If the app you want doesn't appear 
in the Programs list, you'll need to tell 
Windows where to find the program's 




executable file (which probably has an 
.EXE extension, such as Winword.exe). 
Click Browse or Other. The Open With 
window that appears will probably start 
the search in the C:\PROGRAM FILES 
folder, which may be where most of 
your apps are installed. Look in the 
folder that features the application 
name, such as C:\PROGRAM FILES\ 
MOVIE MAKER for the Windows 
video-editing app, or one that features 
the name of the app's developer, such 
as C:\PROGRAM FILES\ADOBE in 
the case of Acrobat Reader. 

There may be several EXE files in the 
app's folder and subfolders, so double- 
click one with a file name that's similar 
to the program's name, such as C:\ 
PROGRAM FILES\MOVIE MAKER\ 
Moviemkexe or C:\PROGRAM FILES\ 
ADOBE\ACROBAT 7.0\READER\ 
Acrord32.exe. Click OK when you 
finish. You may need to try more than 
one EXE file to find the correct exe- 
cutable to open the file type with the 
designated application. 

If these typical steps don't work, you 
may have to dig further into Windows' 
file association settings. 

WinMe/2000/XP 
Association Settings 

In WinMe/2000/XP click Start, 
Settings (if applicable), and Con- 
trol Panel. Double-click Folder 
Options and click the File Types 
tab. Below Registered File Types, 
you'll see a long list of file exten- 
sions (the last three or four charac- 
ters in a file name, such as the .ZIP 
extension in the MyBackup.zip 
file). A file extension tells Win- 
dows what type of file it is. 

Scroll down the list until you 
find the extension for the file type 
you want to open with a different 
app, such as JPEG (Joint Photo- 
graphic Experts Group) photos. 
Select the extension to highlight it. 
In the lower half of the window, 
you'll see the name and icon of the 
associated application after the 
heading Opens With. In our case, 



General Computing 



Microsoft Office Picture Manager was 
set to open JPEGs, even though we 
wanted to use another program that 
was already associated with JPEG files 
using the shorter extension of JPG. 

To associate a file extension with a 
different app, click Change. Scroll 
down the Programs list and click the 
app (LView Pro in our example) once. 
If you're sure that's the app you want 
to associate with the file extension in 
question, select the checkbox next to 
Always Use The Selected Program To 
Open This Kind Of File; otherwise, 
Windows will ask you every time you 
double-click that file type. Of course, 
you can select or deselect that checkbox 
later. Click OK when you finish. 

In WinXP you also can click the link 
labeled Look For The Appropriate Pro- 
gram On The Web. If Microsoft recog- 
nizes the file extension, it may describe 
the file type briefly and suggest a few 
programs that might be able to open it. 
This free service is occasionally helpful, 
but don't hope for too much. You 
might have better luck searching for 
the extension using an Internet search 
engine, such as by typing ABW files in 
a search field at Google (www.google 
.com) or Yahoo! (search.yahoo.com). 

Win98 Association Settings 

If the typical steps we described pre- 
viously in this article don't fix your 
problem in Win98, your next step will 
be a little trickier. This step also is used 
in WinMe/2000/XP to tell Windows to 
open different applications for different 
actions, such as Edit or Preview. 

Click Start, Settings, Folder Options, 
and the File Types tab. Choose a file 
type and click Edit twice. Right-click 
the Application Used To Perform Ac- 
tion field and choose Select All. Next, 
press CTRL-C to copy this file path and 
all of its modifiers at the end, such as 
"C:\PROGRA~1\MICROS~2\2003\ 
OFFICEll\ois.exe" /shellEdit "%1". 
Open a text editor, such as Notepad 
(click Start, [All] Programs, Acces- 
sories, and Notepad), and then press 
CTRL-V to temporarily paste the file 



path in the text editor's window. The 
reason for doing this is because you'll 
want to make sure you copy and paste 
the modifiers (such as /shellEdit "%1") 
with all the proper spaces and quota- 
tion marks (as in our example) to the 
end of the new file 
path you'll choose. 

Click Browse to 
find the EXE file of the 
app you want to use 
and then double-click 
the EXE file. In our 
case, the Application 
Used To Perform Ac- 
tion field then read: 
"C:\Program Files\ 
LView Pro 20\L View- 
Pro, exe". Finally, copy 
and paste the modi- 
fiers of the original file 
path to the end of the 
new file path, pre- 
serving all spaces and 
quotation marks, such 
as we did in our ex- 
ample, which read: 
"C:\Program Files\ 
LView Pro 20\L View- 
Pro, exe "/shellEdit 
"%1". If you don't add 
the modifiers, WinXP 
might fail to open the 
correct app. Click OK 
and Close (as needed) 
when you finish. 

If the new app now 
launches when you 
double-click the file 
(or right-click it in 
WinMe/2000/XP and 
choose Edit or Preview), you can close 
the text editor without saving the file 
path and modifiers. 

WinXP Default Applications 

In a sense, you also can adjust file 
associations by changing the default 
app settings in WinXP with SPla 
(Service Pack la). Click Start, Control 
Panel, Add Or Remove Programs, and 
Set Program Access And Defaults. 
Rather than associating applications 



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Extension 


File Types 


1 


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JPE File 


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JPEG File 




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JSciipl Script File 


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Once you find the file extension 
you want to reassociate, select it 
and click Change. 

' ■■ ■■ I : :.;: .. ■ '■■■ ■ . ■;■■ ! ;: . ■ .. . ■ ■-■■ ■, ■ 



Recommended ■■■. .■; .;■■-. 

' Microsoft Office Picture Manager 
Mo? Ilia 
ty Paint 

■^ Window; Picture and Fax Viewer 
Q Other Programs: 

Internet Explorer 

ti 

toosoftoFFh 



Windows will suggest some 
applications it can associate 
with a file type, although some 
of them may not work. 



with files per se, WinXP's default app 
manager lets you choose which pro- 
gram launches for various types of ac- 
tivities, such as sending email or using 
instant messaging. However, because 
some of these activities involve opening 
certain types of files, 
the overall effect of 
making changes here 
can be similar to ad- 
justing your file associ- 
ations elsewhere. 

After choosing Set 
Program Access And 
Defaults in the left 
pane, select the Cus- 
tom radio button in 
the right pane. The 
Custom section's ar- 
row icon expands and 
hides its list of activities 
and associated applica- 
tions. You can choose 
a default browser, Java 
virtual machine (com- 
mon plug-in that lets 
your PC run Java- 
based content), and 
other apps, and you 
can even disable access 
to certain programs. 
Configurations other 
than the Custom op- 
tion let you choose to 
simply use all Micro- 
soft apps, no Micro- 
soft apps, or whatever 
the manufacturer of 
your PC set as the orig- 
inal defaults. 



j i: 



Watch Your Associations 

The next time you install an appli- 
cation, look through the file types it 
wants to associate with. Many instal- 
lation routines let you deselect check- 
boxes next to file extensions you'd 
rather continue to let another pro- 
gram handle. A little scrutiny here 
can save you a lot of file reassociation 
adjustment later. II 

by Marty Sems 



Smart Computing / June 2006 39 



M r 



Modem 



Desktop 



While My Computer Gently Weeps 



Notes From Mr. Mop - Top's . . . Urn, Mr. Modem's Email Bag 



"w; 



■ hen I was young- 
er, so much 
younger than 
today; I never needed any- 
body's help in any way." 

When Paul and I wrote those 
lyrics years ago — before he 
hooked up with that Lennon 
fellow — the songwriting team 
of Modem & McCartney was 
knocking 'em dead throughout 
Liverpool. It was years before 
computers, of course, but as I 
would set up our equipment at 
the clubs, the technology of the 
day was simple. I never did need 
anybody's help in any way. 

It was fun while it lasted, but 
then I moved on to a glamorous life as a writer and pub- 
lisher, helping others with their computer and Internet 
problems. I don't know what happened to Paul. We lost 
touch sometime in the early '60s, but if he reads this, I hope 
he gets in touch. 

Speaking of help — and they don't call me the Prince of 
Segues for nothing — today, anyone who uses a computer 
needs a helping hand from time to time. That, of course, is 
my reason for living and why it's such a privilege to connect 
with you here via the hallowed pages of Smart Computing 
each month. This month, I thought I'd reach into my email 
bag to see what's on your mind: 

Q . Dear Mr. Modem: What can I do to block email from 
a particular person? She's a friend, but if I receive 20 emails, 
15 of them are from her, and they're jokes, chain letters, etc. 

A. The best thing is to send your friend an email, thank 
her for thinking of you, and explain that with the volume of 
email you receive, it's just not possible to read all the jokes, 
etc. If she's a friend, she'll understand and probably apolo- 
gize. On the other hand, if she's insensitive to your wishes 
or offended, then she isn't much of a friend, anyway. 

If you block her address, you'll never receive anything 
from her, and that's not well advised in the case of a friend. 
At some point she may need to contact you about an impor- 
tant matter or ask for your opinion about something. If you 
don't respond, sooner or later you'll have to 'fess up that 
you've been blocking her address. If that occurs, you can rest 
assured her first question is going to be, "Why didn't you just 
tell me?" "Homina, homina," isn't an acceptable response. 

Q . How can I stop WinXP's startup password prompt? 




A. If you simply press the 
ENTER key when faced with a 
pesky password prompt on 
startup, you might as well elim- 
inate that exhausting step. 

Just click Start and Run, type 
control userpasswords2, and 
click OK. Remove the check 
mark beside Users Must Enter 
A User Name And Password To 
Use This Computer and then 
click Apply and OK. 

After rebooting (restarting) 
your computer, Windows XP 
will launch to the Desktop 
without requiring any addi- 
tional exertion on your part. 
Q . Is there any way I can use 
the Internet to find out how much my house is worth? 

A. Take a look at www.zillow.com. Created by Expedia 
wizards Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink, you simply enter an 
address to check the value of a home, view an aerial photo- 
graph, sales history, and more. The site's database currently 
contains 60 million U.S. homes, and it's updated daily. 
Information is all publicly accessible, so there's no funny 
business going on here, but because of those aerial photos, 
I've decided not to wear my Speedo in the backyard any- 
more — for which my neighbors are eternally grateful. 

Q . I've heard that cell phones emit radiation that can be 
damaging over time. Is there any truth to that? 

A . I've been using a cell phone for many years and haven't 
noticed any adverse effects, though Mrs. Modem tells me 
that the glow from my ear provides a lovely nightlight. Cell 
phone manufacturers are suspiciously tight-lipped about ra- 
diation, but the Quick Guide to Cell Phone Radiation Levels 
(tinyurl.com/cuw7m) spills the radioactive beans. According 
to its findings, the Siemens S40 phone emits the smallest 
amount of radiation with an SAR (specific absorption rate) 
of .33; Motorola's V120c (as in "Chernobyl") emits 1.55. I 
use Nokia's popular "Widow Maker" model, which probably 
wasn't the wisest choice, now that I think about it. II 

by Mr. Modem 



Mr. Modem (Richard Sherman) is an author, syndicated 
columnist, radio host, and publisher. "Mr. Modem's Weekly 
Newsletter" provides personal responses to subscribers' computer 
and Internet questions, plus weekly computing tips, Web site 
recommendations, virus alerts, hoax warnings, and more. 
For additional information, visit www.MrModem.com. 



40 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Plugged In 



Set Yourself Up 

Create A Web Site With Your ISP's Help 




If you have an Internet connection, you 
probably have a free personal Web site 
waiting for you. Most ISPs (Internet service 
providers) include a complimentary single 
or multipage Web site with your subscrip- 
tion. What's more, most ISPs also provide free 
tools to help you create a basic Web page, 
without any knowledge of HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language). 

Why would you want a personal Web site? 
People use them to share photos, links, and hob- 
bies. Some ISPs let you advertise your business, 
and you can also use them for school projects, 
sports clubs, and nonprofit groups. 

Because the service is free, and the Web au- 
thoring tools are often merely serviceable (not 
sophisticated), don't expect a flashy site or an 
overly professional look. And most ISPs don't let 
you define or assign a special domain name to 
your site. Instead, you're stuck with a clunky 
name supplied by the ISP. But it's free and rela- 
tively easy to create a decent site that you can 
use to share information with friends, family, 
and customers. 

To give you an idea of what's available, we ex- 
amined the Web site services of four ISPs. For ad- 
ditional possibilities, see the More Personal Web 
Pages sidebar. 

AOL 

AOL Hometown (hometown 

.aol.com) is AOL's personal Web 

page feature. To use the feature, all 

you need is a free AOL screen name. 

However, AOL members get more 

features and flexibility with their paid 

subscription to AOL's broadband or 

dial-up Internet service. 

The concept behind AOL Home- 
town is to let individuals create Web 
pages based on their interests and 
hobbies. In addition, small business 
owners can add a site to the Business 



Park community, which lets you clas- 
sify your business services in cate- 
gories ranging from banking to 
consulting to Web design. So others 
can locate your information, AOL 
Hometown includes a search-by-cate- 
gory function. 

Free tools. To create a Web site on 
AOL Hometown, go to hometown 
.aol.com. The right side of the screen 
lists options for getting started. If you 
want to quickly create a page, select 1- 
2-3 Publish, a free tool that helps you 
create a one-page Web site in a few 
minutes. The tool starts by prompting 
you to select one of 90 templates to 
use for your Web page. Next, sign in 
with your AOL screen name and 
follow the prompts to choose back- 
ground color, images, text, links, and 
other information. When this process 
is complete, you can preview and 
publish your page. 

If you want more flexibility, im- 
ages, and pages, try AOL's free Easy 
Designer tool. Easy Designer uses a 
drag-and-drop interface that lets you 
decide where to place text and images 
on your Web pages. It also offers tem- 
plates if you prefer a predesigned 
format. Although Easy Designer re- 
quires no HTML knowledge, those 
who want to insert HTML can do so 
with the Advanced HTML Source 
Code Editor. 

If you create multiple pages, you 
must use Easy Designer to manually 
link them to your home page. By con- 
trast, some Web site creation tools let 
you define the pages you want, and the 
tool automatically creates and links the 
pages with a navigation system. 

After you create and publish your 
Web page or site, AOL emails you the 



Smart Computing /June 2006 41 



Plugged In 



specific address for your page. It will 
likely be at members. aol.com/screen_ 
name/index. html or hometown. aol 
.com/scree«_«ame/myhomepage/inde 
x.html, where screen_name is your 
AOL screen name. 

Limitations. Your AOL Home- 
town Web pages cannot use more 
than 20MB of storage capacity per 
AOL screen name. You can create as 
many pages as you want within the 
storage limit. However, you are lim- 
ited to 10 registrations on the 
Hometown service. For example, you 
can create up to 10 pages and add 
them to different Hometown cate- 
gories, or you can add the same page 
to as many as 10 categories. 

Although the service is free for 
nonmembers, your Web pages will 
display banner ads. In addition, non- 
members must use the 1-2-3 Publish 
or Easy Designer tools to create their 
pages. Members can use commercial 
tools, such as Microsoft FrontPage, 
along with AOL's FTP (File Transfer 
Protocol) feature to publish Web 
pages. AOL requires the file name ex- 
tension .HTM or .HTML for the 
pages you publish. 

Extras. AOL Hometown includes 
extra features in the Easy Designer 
tool. You can add a personal chat 
room or counter, choose from thou- 
sands of clip art files, and use the ad- 
vanced HTML feature for custom 
HTML code. 

Comcast 

Comcast cable service (www.com 
cast.net) is based in Philadelphia, with 
more than 21.5 million customers 
in 35 states. The company also boasts 
more than 7 million high-speed 
Internet customers. As do many 
Internet providers, Comcast offers 
residential Internet customers a 
Personal Web Page feature. 

The service lets you create and 
publish Web pages using tools pro- 
vided by Comcast. You can also 
create and publish your Personal 
Web Page with Microsoft FrontPage. 





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My First Home Page Template 


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AOL's Hometown feature includes 1-2-3 
Publish, a basic Web authoring tool. You 
make selections in your browser window 
or select a design template to determine 
your site's format. 



In addition, Comcast supplies a basic 
HTML editor. 

Free tools. For users new to cre- 
ating Web pages, Comcast provides 
two authoring tools. The Personal 
Web Page Wizard helps you create a 
basic home page. The tool lets you de- 
fine headings, colors, content, and 
other information. After the wizard 
prompts you for the information and 
format of your Web page, it publishes 
it to Comcast's servers. 

To create a more sophisticated site, 
you can use the free Web Site Builder 
application. Web Site Builder is also 
designed for Web authoring novices, 
so you don't need to know HTML to 
use it. The tool's Web-based, tabbed 




interface walks you through the 
process of creating Web pages by 
prompting you for text, color, image, 
style, and other format information. 

To help you manage your site, 
Comcast supplies file and directory 
(folder) utilities with Web Site 
Builder. The utilities include copying, 
deleting, and renaming the files and 
directories that make up your site. 
The directory utility also lets you 
password-protect directories that 
hold your Web site's pages. With 
password protection, only the visitors 
who know the correct username and 
password can access the Web pages in 
the protected directory. 

Limitations. The Personal Web 
Page feature is available for each of 
the seven email accounts supplied 
with a Comcast high-speed Internet 
connection, with a limit of 25MB of 
space per account. When you use 
Microsoft FrontPage, server-based 
features such as server-side databases 
and scripting (among other features 
supported by FrontPage) are not 
available. However, Comcast does not 
place banner ads on your pages. 

Extras. The Personal Web Page 
Wizard and Web Site Builder offer 
loads of extra features. You can create 
a newsletter on your site along with 
an email address list to send it. To no- 
tify others of your schedule, you can 
publish a monthly calendar page. You 
can add interactive elements for your 
visitors, including a polling feature, a 
guest book, and an email form to col- 
lect feedback. Perhaps the 
most convenient feature is 
Personal Page Name, which 
lets you define an easy-to-re- 
member name for your Web 



Our Swimming Page 



-*SeHFffife=StfS= 



\sxm 



I 




■■.odet Window 



For more design elements, AOL 
Hometown offers the EasyDesigner 
software. You don't need HTML 
(Hypertext Markup Language) 
knowledge to use the software. It 
features background templates 
and drag-and-drop features to add 
elements to your Web page. 



42 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Plugged In 



site. Otherwise, the site name is 
home, comcast.net/ ~your_user_name, 
where your_user_name is your Com- 
cast account name. 

Earth Link 

Earthlink (www.earthlink.net) is a 
large ISP that provides dial-up and 
high-speed Internet access to cus- 
tomers across the United States. The 
company started in 1994 with 10 
modems, and it has grown to serve 
more than 5 million Internet cus- 
tomers. As part of Earthlink's ser- 
vices, subscribers receive the Personal 
WebSpace feature. 

EarthLink automatically 
activates Personal WebSpace 
when you start your Internet 
service. You can use it for 
personal or business reasons, 
and EarthLink provides free 
Web authoring tools. How 
ever, if you're comfortable 
with HTML and building 
Web pages, you can use com- 
mercial software instead. 

Free tools. EarthLink pro- 
vides subscribers with Trellix 
Site Builder. A Web-based, 
tabbed interface starts you 
off. The tool lets you select 
from a wide assortment of 
templates to find one that 
suits your site. After you es- 
tablish the look and feel, you can 
click Edit buttons in a preview of the 
Web page to change text, images, 
and links. Trellix Site Builder in- 
cludes a publishing feature, so you 
can easily transfer files and manage 
your site. Experienced users can 
create pages with commercial Web 
authoring software and transfer the 
files to EarthLink's Web servers with 
FTP software. 

Limitations. EarthLink gives you 
10MB of personal Web page space 
per email account, with a maximum 
of eight accounts. EarthLink sets the 
maximum transfer capacity at a gen- 
erous 1GB per month. The transfer 
capacity refers to the total amount of 



data that visitors to your site can 
download in one month. Unlike 
most other ISPs, EarthLink offers 
Personal WebSpace to dial-up and 
high-speed customers. 

Extras. Trellix Site Builder comes 
with numerous add-on features such 
as the weather, search engines, online 
forms, tables, audio, and video. And 
EarthLink recently added blogs (Web 
logs) to the available site features. In 
addition, customers can try the 
Urchin Lite reporting system for sta- 
tistics about activity on their 
WebSpace site, including number of 
hits, visitors, pages accessed, and 
bytes transferred. 





Professions! echnical Communication 



Mailing List Gjest Book Calendar Admin 

ime About Contact Catalog Photos Links 




Professional 

Technical 

Communication 

Professional writing, editing 
and document design 



■£] 



at- 



This Web page was created with the free Comcast (www.comcast.net) 
Web Site Builder tool. 



Road Runner 

Road Runner (www.rr.com) is a 
high-speed Internet service provided 
primarily by Time Warner Cable and 
Bright House Communications. It is 
available in numerous cities in more 
than 25 states. Customers of the Road 
Runner service receive a free Personal 
Home Page, but they need some 
Web-creation experience to use it. 

Customers can activate their 
Personal Home Page by accessing 
their member page at home-admin 
.rr.com. During the activation pro- 
cess, you can select as many as three 
categories for listing your site on the 
Road Runner member page. 



Free tools. Road Runner does not 
provide free Web authoring tools. 
You can use commercial tools such as 
Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe GoLive, 
or Macromedia Dreamweaver or a 
basic HTML text editor such as 
NoteTab (www.notetab.com) to 
create your Web pages. Road Runner 
does offer advice for FTP software to 
help you copy your files to the Road 
Runner Web server. 

Limitations. Personal Web Pages 
cannot be used for commercial or busi- 
ness purposes. Road Runner members 
receive 5MB of storage and 250MB per 
month transfer capacity. The limit 
makes it difficult to distribute large files 
to numerous site visitors, and 
Road Runner prohibits distri- 
bution of streaming audio 
and video. And although you 
can use commercial Web au- 
thoring tools to create your 
site, Road Runner does not 
support advanced code such 
as server-side databases or 
CGI (Common Gateway 
Interface) scripts. 

Extras. Because Road 
Runner does not offer Web 
authoring tools, you won't 
get any extra features for 
your Personal Web Page. For 
a fee, business owners can 
subscribe to services in- 
cluding Web hosting and 
domain name registration. The Web 
hosting service lets you opt for ad- 
vanced HTML features. 

Free For The Taking 

If you've thought about creating a 
Web site, check out your ISP and find 
out what it provides. Remember that 
most ISPs, not just the big names 
we've discussed here, will provide free 
Web site space. Even if you don't 
think you need a Web site, take a few 
minutes to try out any free Web au- 
thoring tools. What you create might 
surprise you! II 

by Carmen Carmack 



Smart Computing /June 2006 43 



Plugged In 



WiMAXvs. 

Satellite Internet 

What Are They & Which Is Right For You? 



The last mile conundrum has 
dogged wired high-speed Internet 
providers and potential sub- 
scribers for years. The expense of laying 
wires and cable in cities and suburbs is 
partially offset by the numbers of po- 
tential subscribers in each square mile. 
In predominantly rural areas, however, 
potential subscribers are geographically 
dispersed, so it's difficult for companies 
to recover costs of setting up infrastruc- 
ture with the relatively few potential 
subscribers. Consequently, there are ex- 
panses of rural America that have no 
Internet access at all, much less access 
to high-speed Internet connections, 
such as DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) 
or cable broadband. 

According to a Pew Internet & 
American Life Project report released 
in February 2006, 24% of rural Amer- 
icans have high-speed Internet con- 
nections, whereas 39% of urban and 
suburban households have high-speed 
Internet connections. Of those ques- 
tioned, 29% of rural adults use dial-up 
connections compared to 21% of 
urban and suburban adults, and a 




similar disparity exists among rural 
and urban/suburban non-Internet 
users: 38% of the rural respondents do 
not use the Internet at all vs. 30% of 
the urban/suburban dwellers. 

Although we can't ascertain by 
looking at those figures how many of 
the rural respondents have no access 
to the Internet or how many would 
switch from dial-up to high-speed ac- 
cess if it were available, we can't help 
but wonder. One thing is clear, 
though: Despite higher numbers for 
urban/suburban vs. rural dwellers, 
roughly 61% of nonrural Americans 
lack high-speed Internet connections, 
and some 76% of people living in 
rural areas also go without. 

Although there are many possible 
ways to bridge these service gaps, we'll 
be discussing two of them here: a new 
wireless standard called WiMAX and 
satellite Internet connections. People 
tend to confuse these two technolo- 
gies, but they're really very different 
from one another. 

Theoretical Terrestrial Option 

The currently popular wireless 
standard, Wi-Fi (802.11), is imprac- 
tical for rural areas because coverage 
maxes out at around 300 feet. That's 
perfect for someone toting a note- 
book PC around his home or the 
neighborhood Starbucks, but it's im- 
practical for those large, sparsely pop- 
ulated rural areas mentioned earlier. 
WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability 
for Microwave Access; which is an 
IEEE wireless standard encompassing 
the 802.16* family) is a new and 
evolving wireless standard that's been 



touted by industry heavy hitters such 
as Intel and Motorola as a solution to 
the problem of the final mile. 

MAN. WiMAX is a standard for 
MANs (metropolitan-area network), 
as opposed to the LANs (local-area 
networks) served by the more well- 
known Wi-Fi. The difference is dis- 
tance and area of coverage: WiMAX 
can theoretically broadcast a high- 
speed signal 30 miles in every direc- 
tion for fixed stations and 3 to 10 
miles for mobile stations. 

According to the WiMAX forum 
(www.wimaxforum.org), the group 
developing the standard, "WiMAX 
will provide fixed, nomadic, portable, 
and, eventually, mobile wireless 
broadband connectivity without the 
need for direct line-of-sight to a base 
station." Interestingly, the developers 
don't see WiMAX as a replacement for 
Wi-Fi but, rather, a complementary 
standard that "extends the reach and 
provides a Wi-Fi-like user experience 
on a larger geographic scale." Like Wi- 
Fi, WiMAX users will be able to send 
and receive data files, voice, music, 
and streaming video, as well as partici- 
pate in multiplayer online gaming. 

Scheduling MAC. WiMAX offers 
significant improvements over Wi-Fi, 
and among the more important is the 
specification making WiMAX a system 
that uses a scheduling MAC (Media 
Access Control; the link between the 
network and the device you're using to 
access the network). With a scheduling 
MAC, your device competes only once 
for access to the network, and a spe- 
cific amount of bandwidth is allocated 
solely for your device's use. The quality 
and speed of that signal will never vary 
as long as you're connected. 

Wi-Fi uses contention access, so 
your device competes with all other de- 
vices on the network for attention. 
Data sent and requested by devices 
closer to the network AP (access point) 
constantly interrupt and even crowd 
out data sent and received by devices 
farther away from the AP. Also, the 
more devices seeking access to the net- 
work, the lower the quality of the signal. 



44 June 20« 



Plugged In 



Products & Services 



LINE DF SIGHT 
StarBand's line of sight tot 



Step 1: Determine what direction your antenna needs to face, 

Step 2: Determine if the line of sight in that direction is unobstructed, 




This means if you access the 
Internet with a Wi-Fi router hooked 
up to your local cable TV company's 
broadband service, for instance, and 
the company also offers VoIP (Voice 
over Internet Protocol) phone service, 
the more people who are online, 
watching TV, and talking on the 
phone in your access area, the weaker 
the signal and the slower your connec- 
tion speed. And speaking of speeds, 
Wi-Fi's theoretical maximum speed is 
11Mbps (megabits per second), while 
WiMAX is designed to handle speeds 
between 75Mbps and a 268Mbps. 

Deployment Problems 

Although hundreds of big-name 
manufacturers are onboard with the 
WiMAX standard, there are a few prob- 
lems with its large-scale deployment. 
WiMAX is capable of taking advantage 
of the licensed frequencies between 
2GHz and 11 GHz and the unlicensed 
frequencies up to 66GHz. The FCC, 
however, is concerned about use of the 
spectrum without licenses because the 
National Association of Broadcasters 
has said wireless broadband using the 
same bands as TV signals will cause in- 
terference for television viewers. 

Other than experimental sites 
around the world and a company in 
Seattle, Wash., you'll find few WiMAX 
service providers and products. 
(Incidentally, the Seattle company, 



Click a state from the Line Of Sight 
map to see where you'd place a 
dish in order to receive high-speed 
Internet access via StarBand. 



Speakeasy [www. speakeasy 
.net], offers speeds of 6Mbps 
over a DSL line for which 
you do not have to have ex- 
isting phone service.) 

Intel has delayed the 
launch of its WiMAX-ca- 
pable chip until 2007 or 
thereafter, and that makes it 
tough for manufacturers that 
incorporate the chip in their 
hardware to proceed, as well. 
Samsung and other manufacturers 
have released chips and hardware, but 
it's all compliant with current WiMAX 
standards, and until others, including 
the mobile standard, are adopted, 
there's no guarantee that existing 
WiMAX-compatible hardware will 
work chips and hardware based on the 
final iterations of the standard. 

WiMAX is a promising new stan- 
dard, but our long wait is not over yet. 

Something's Out There 

If you don't want to wait another 
year or two, and you can't get high- 
speed Internet access through your 
phone or cable company, take a look 
at satellite Internet access. Look care- 
fully, though, because many satellite 
TV providers, including DISH Net- 
work and DirecTV, offer Internet ac- 
cess through partnerships with local 
phone companies, so you have to 
have a phone line that supports DSL. 

Nationwide provider StarBand 
(www.starband.com) provides high- 
speed, always-on, two-way Internet 
access via a satellite dish. Make sure 
you're serious about the service: In ad- 
dition to making a multiyear contrac- 
tual commitment, you also have to 
pay a one-time fee for some pricey 
hardware, as well as a monthly fee. 

Hardware includes equipment to 
transmit and receive data over the 
Internet, a satellite modem, and an 



installation kit, and you have to pay 
for its installation, which has to be 
done by a StarBand-certified techni- 
cian. The FCC regulates all satellite 
activity, so it's illegal to set up your 
own system. At press time, equipment 
costs ranged from $399.99 to $599.99, 
depending on the length of the con- 
tract you sign and the modem you 
opt for, and monthly subscription 
prices run $69.99 for the first contract 
year, $59.99 for the second, and 
$49.99 for the third. 

You have a choice of modems: the 
StarBand 360 Starter Residential or the 
StarBand 481 Residential. The former 
downloads data up to 250Kbps (kilobits 
per second) and uploads data at speeds 
similar to dial-up (56Kbps at best). The 
latter features download speeds up to 
500Kbps, but a TurboMode sends data 
upstream at 100Kbps. The 481 is com- 
patible with operating systems that sup- 
port TCP/IP (Transmission Control 
Protocol/Internet Protocol), including 
Windows 98/98SE/Me/2000 Pro/XP. 
With the 481, you also get 10 free 
Webmail addresses and 10MB of per- 
sonal space for a Web page. The 360 is 
compatible with the Windows 98/98SE/ 
Me/2000/XP OSes, and you get one 
Webmail address and 5MB of space. 

As with satellite TV, satellite Internet 
requires direct line-of-sight, meaning you 
have to have a clear view of the southern 
sky. Also, as with satellite TV reception, 
heavy clouds or storms can cause inter- 
ference or block the signals entirely. 

Not Much Choice 

There are problems with both op- 
tions, including the fact that WiMAX 
has yet to be widely deployed in the 
United States. High-speed satellite 
Internet access is still somewhat pricey, 
and you'll have many hundreds of feet 
of wire dropping from your dish to 
various points in your house. 

Weigh your options; hopefully, a 
new wireless standard that can bridge 
great distances will roll out soon. II 

by Kathryn Dolan 



Smart Computing /June 2006 45 



Plugged In 



WEB TIPS 



Enhance Your Time Online 



A Helpful Library Elf 

Problem: I'm always re- 
turning library books late. 
How can I avoid overdue 
charges? 

Solution: Managing library 
accounts just got a lot 
easier. Check out Elf 
(www.libraryelf.com), 
which allows you to keep 
track of what's due, 
overdue, and ready for 
pickup at one or more li- 
braries. All you need is a 
library card and a free ac- 
count on Elf, and you can 
get reminders sent by email 
or RSS (Really Simple 
Syndication). Too bad it 
can't help with late fees 
from the video rental store. 

Real Estate Researcher 

Problem: I'm still trying to 
figure out if the real estate 
boom is over. How can I 
find out the value of my 
house without going 
through an expensive 
appraisal process? 
Solution: Whether or not 
the housing market has 
cooled down, one thing 
that is super hot is the new 
site, Zillow.com (www 
.zillow.com). In beta (as of 
this writing), Zillow offers 



free, instant property valua- 
tions for more than 60 mil- 
lion homes. It's as easy as 
entering an address, and 
you'll find out what your 
home could go for. 
Accurate? Some reports 
suggest it's not very on-the- 
mark, while Zillow claims 
to be within 10% of the 
selling price of homes. Best 
to use it as a point of refer- 
ence in a larger search . . . 
or as a fun, frivolous, 
gossip-inspiring diversion. 
Mac users, beware: For you, 
Zillow only runs on Firefox 
1.5. (However, Window 
users can also use Internet 
Explorer 5.5 or 6.) 

Stock Photography 
For The Masses 

Problem: I put together a 
newsletter for friends and 
family and would like to 
spruce it up with some 
better pictures. But I'd 
rather not dump a lot 
of cash into those expen- 
sive clip art or stock photo 
collections. 

Solution: While not free, 
iStockphoto (istockphoto 
.com) may very well be the 
best value on the Web. A 
royalty-free image from 




Zillow.com, 



Homo | MopHSoareh | How to Uao Zillow | 

Free, Instant Valuations and Data for 60,000,000+ Homes 

( ...and you don't have to enter an/ personal info and no one will contact vol) 



Value Any Home 

Address OR Street OR Neighborhood 


City, Stale OR ZIP 




1 


I 


■£■ 






Advanced Search 



What's your house worth? Zillow.com will tell you instantly. 



Pandora's free service lets you customize up to 1 00 
personal radio stations. 



Corbis (www.corbis.com) 
can cost $60 for a small 
72dpi (dots per inch) 
image. Compare that to 
iStockphoto's price of $1. 
Yep, just one buck. For 
people creating personal 
Web sites or small office 
newsletters, you can't 
go wrong with iStock- 
photo's 660,000-plus 
royalty-free pics. 

Pandora's Box 
Of Online Music 

Problem: I have tried to 
listen to Internet radio sta- 
tions, but I have the same 
problem I have with regular 
radio stations: They aren't 
tailored closely enough to 
my taste in music. 
Solution: With all the de- 
bate about downloading 
music legally and illegally, 
it's refreshing to see a free 
online music option like 
Pandora (pandora.com). 
Pandora is a streaming 
radio station that learns 
your tastes by letting you 
rate the music it plays. 
Therefore, the more you 
listen to it, the smarter it 
gets. Registering is free 
(and allows the system to 



remember your preferences 
and selections), and it also 
offers a subscription that 
removes the ads. 

eBay Insider 

Problem: I enjoy eBay, but 
I wish I had some more 
info about the value of cer- 
tain things before I set a re- 
serve or clicked Buy Now. 
Solution: Experienced 
eBayers know that it's easy 
to look up the prices on 
completed items (both ones 
that sold and didn't sell) 
to get a feel for what the 
market can currently bear. 
Those folks looking for data 
that's a little more in depth 
might want to plunk down 
a couple bucks for eBay's 
new Marketplace Research 
(pages.ebay.com/market 
place_research). This ser- 
vice, which starts at S2.99 
for a two-day pass, allows 
you to "gather critical intel- 
ligence on buying and 
selling trends in the eBay 
marketplace." Such detailed 
charts and graphs might be 
too much for most people, 
but it's bound to be a wel- 
come tool for high-volume 
buyers and sellers. 



46 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Hardware Without The Plug 



?; 




When you're unplugged, pick up an issue of CPU and plug into the world 
of high-tech computing. Each month CPU brings you afunctional mix of 
hardware reviews, information on modding, the latest and greatest 
software, and the opinions of some of the industry's leading columnists. 








Pick up the latest issue of CPU on newsstands now! 
www.computerpoweruser.com 



Plugged In 



FIND IT ONLINE 



User 
Groups 



APCUG 

www.apcug.net 

The APCUG (Association Of Per 
sonal Computer User Groups) isn't a 
traditional personal computer user 
group as the other groups in this ar- 
ticle are. For one thing, the APCUG's 
members aren't individual computer 
users; the members are the groups 
themselves. The APCUG's goal is "to 
facilitate communication among com- 
puter user groups, the community, 
and the technology industry." If your 
club is a member, its newsletter editor 
can add the APCUG's computer- 
related articles to your group's Web 
site and newsletter. The association 
also offers access to vendors, who can 
provide presentations (and sometimes 
door prizes). If you're a user group of- 
ficer or president and your club isn't 
already a member of the association, 
check out the What We Offer section. 

CKCS 

www.ckcs.org 

Whether you're looking for PC or 
Mac tips, you'll find tons of online 
goodies at the Central Kentucky Com- 
puter Society's sophisticated Web site. 
Many of the group's members use PCs, 
so the site relegates Apple fans to its 
Mac Corner, but what a corner it is. 
You'll find links to Mac magazines, 
support sites, product pages, and Mac- 
oriented blogs. Luckily, the Favorites 
and Favorite Mac Articles will help you 
find the best material. Joe Isaac's Top 
Fifty Tips For Windows 98/Me/XP will 
free you from nasty computer prob- 
lems and teach you useful tricks. 

CCOKC 

www.ccokc.org 

This site's main page keeps visitors 
up-to-date on club events and has 




detailed explanations of the presenta- 
tions Computer Club Of Oklahoma 
City members can expect to enjoy at 
upcoming meetings. If you're a 
newsletter fan, you can subscribe to 
the site's eMonitor email newsletter 
or click eMonitor in the navigation 
bar to read it right away. The site also 
offers several monthly columns, in- 
cluding John Brewer's Legal Bytes, 
which discusses legal issues relevant 
to computer users. 

FCC 

fcconline.hmcltd.net 

The Firelands Computer Club's 
home page is one of the more colorful 
(and easy to navigate) user group sites 
on the 'Net. The centerpiece of the 
home page is a blog area that has 
short articles about (computer) virus 
outbreaks, updates for popular soft- 
ware, and club news. By default, the 
page section displays only blog entry 
titles, which means you can quickly 
scan the page to find an article. A 
Read More link opens the full entry 
without taking you to a new page. We 
like the entry title color-coding 
system as it helps you quickly spot 
info about critical updates for 
Windows 98/Me/2000/XP. 

FPCUG 

www.fpcug.org 

The Fredericksburg Personal Com- 
puter Users Group is a small group, 
but you wouldn't know it to see the 
group's award-winning Web site. The 



Compiled by Joshua Guuck 
Illustrated by Lindsay Anker 



right column on the main page offers 
basic information about the next gen- 
eral and SIG (special interest group) 
meetings, but you'll find better de- 
scriptions of the group's activities in 
the blog that eats up most of the main 
page. The column on the left has links 
to additional news and the group's 
Electronically Speaking newsletter. 
Run your mouse pointer over any 
link in that column to see a descrip- 
tion of the linked page. 

KIPCUG 

www.kipcug.org 

The Kentucky-Indiana Personal 
Computer Users Group's Web site 
took second place in the Medium 
Sized Groups category of APCUG's 
2005 Web site contest. The site boasts 
a bright calendar, complete with icons 
and links to information about 
the group's many SIGs. The online 
newsletter (in PDF [Portable Docu- 
ment Format] file) offers pages of 
software and hardware reviews, as 
well as tips from experts within the 
club on such topics as hard drives and 
processors. The club also posts pic- 
tures of presenters from its meetings 
on the Web site. (And yes, Smart 
Computing is in there.) 

TPCUG 

www.tpcug.org 

Tampa PC Users Group's lucky 
members can read this Web site's 
newsletters in HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language) or the download- 
able PDF format (which lets users 
read while offline). The TPCUG also 
has a special version of the site for 
readers who want to browse its pages 
via their Pocket PC PDAs (personal 
digital assistants). The site has plenty 
of free articles, some of which date 
back to 1996. If you have a high-speed 
Internet connection, you'll enjoy the 
site's slideshow, which will introduce 
you to the group. If you're in the 
mood to see some new sites, check 
out the Random Member's Web Site 
link at the bottom of the main page. 



48 June 2006 / www.smartcompiiting.com 



That's 

News 

To You 

Finding the appropriate Usenet dis- 
cussion group to match your interests 
can be a monumental task. So each 
month, we scour tens of thousands of 
newsgroups and highlight ones that 
delve into popular topics. If your ISP 
(Internet service provider) doesn't 
carry these groups, ask it to add the 
groups to its list. This month, we 
check out computer user groups. 



comp.cad.autocad 

Members here ask and answer 
questions about the popular 
Autodesk AutoCAD software. If 
you're in a CAD (computer- 
aided design) SIG, add this 
group to your list. 



comp.org.user-groups.meetings 

Several groups list their 
meeting schedules and direc- 
tions here. If you've recently 
moved and want to find a user 
group in your area, be sure to 
check out this group. 



comp.os.ms-windows.misc 

Having trouble with your OS 
(operating system)? Chances 
are, you're not the first to 
experience the problem. If 
you post a question here, 
you'll find that these 
members collectively 
offer a wealth 
of expertise. 




Share The Wares 

Some of the best apples in the online orchard are the free (or free to try) 
programs available for download. Each month we feature highlights 
from our pickings. This month we help you spice up your group's Web 
site and newsletter. 

Scrollbar Styler 1.0 

www.tucows.com/preview/220462 

As Web surfers, we run into scrollbars (the bars that let you scroll up 
and down, or left and right, on a Web page) on almost every Web page we 
view. If you'd like to get the attention of visitors to your site, spice up your 
scrollbar with some unusual sizes, styles, and colors. The Scrollbar Styler 
lets you create new scrollbars without entering any HTML (Hypertext 
Markup Language; the code that makes up your Web site). 

To change the scrollbar's base color, for example, you'll click the Settings 
tab and then click the drop-down menu in the ScrollbarFaceColor tab. 
Select Pick Color and then click the Palette button, which opens the Color 
Picker's palette of Web-friendly colors. Selecting a color is as simple as 
clicking it. If you want to blend colors into each other, press the SHIFT key 
and then double-click the colors you like. 

Next, click the Preview tab, which shows a sample scrollbar, as well as the 
code. If you like the scrollbar, click the Copy To Clipboard button (which 
copies all of the code to your clipboard, as if you had highlighted and 
copied it yourself). You can now paste the code into your HTML editor. 

The program only changes Web page scrollbar colors. You'll need a sep- 
arate program to build the rest of your Web site. But it's a handy little tool, 
and it has a great price: free. Scrollbar Styler supports Windows 
98/NT/2000/Me/XP. 

Art Explosion Clip Art 

www.novadevelopment.com 
If you're looking for some- 
thing that will add a little flair 
to your user group's Web site 
or newsletter, consider tossing 
in a few images. Clip art breaks 
up the text and helps readers 
quickly spot sections or arti- 
cles in which they're inter- 
ested. If you're looking for 
some free clip art that won't 
transfer any viruses or other 
unwanted software to your 
computer, check out Nova 
Development's Art Explosion 
Clip Art Sampler, which offers 
100 clip art files. The 

software publisher also offers several smaller samplers that 
>s^ have thematic pictures. 

To download the clip art, visit the site and then 
click the Downloads tab at the top of the page. 
Click Free Windows Downloads and then enter 
your name and email address in the site's form. 
Once you submit the form, you can download 
some or all of the sample packages. I 




Nova Development's free clip art adds 
personality to your user group's 
newsletter. Nova Development also 
offers Art Explosion Publisher Pro, which 
lets you create documents. 



Smart Computing /June 2006 49 





54 System Restore 

A Rewind Button For Your PC 

55 A Backup Medium 
With High Results 

Top Candidates For Convenience, 
Capacity & Cost 

57 Best Of The Backup 
Software Batch 

Look For Performance 
You Can Count On 

I 

60 Follow The 
Backup Wizard 

Step-By-Step Archiving, 
Scheduling & Drive Imaging 

63 Be A Disaster Master 

Put Your Backup Plan Into Action 
& Restore Your Data 




gJi)©^UP 




(^^ILlSfej 



It's Time To Protect Yourself & Your Files 



50 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Cover Story: System Recovery 




I 



he days of storing 
photo negatives, stacks 
of videotapes, and multiple 
copies of important docu- 
ments are long past. Now that 
pretty much everything is dig- 
ital, making and storing back- 
ups is easier and less expensive 
than ever — but only if you know 
the ropes. 

There are many types of backup 
software and hardware to consider 
that can help you create and man- 
age your backups. As long as you 
know a little bit about the way they 
work and a little bit about your 
computer, these components 
will help you make the 
type of backups that 
suit your needs. 



Select Your Software 

Many programs in- 



/ 



elude a tool that 

lets users create 

backup files, 

and some 




% 




OSes (operating sys- 
tems) come with a back- 
up utility, but these 
tools and utilities are 
nothing compared to 
third-party programs 
such as Genie Backup 
Manager Home ($49.95; 
www.genie-soft.com), 
Acronis True Image 9.0 
Home ($49.99; www 
.acronis.com), Syman- 
tec's Norton Ghost 10.0 
($69.99; www.symantec 
.com), and others. 

Some backup applica- 
tions create a copy of 
your entire hard drive; 
some are designed to 
only back up the files 
and folders you designate; and some 
programs do both. Here, we'll cover 
the type of backup software that lets 
you determine what you want to back 
up, but you'll also find information 
about drive-imaging software in our 
"Mirror Backups" sidebar on page 52. 

Good backup software lets you 
schedule recurring backups, so the 
software automatically backs up data 
at the time you specify; better soft- 
ware delays this process if it detects 
you are working on the computer, so 
it doesn't slow your computer to a 
crawl just when you need maximum 
performance. 

Of the packages that automatically 
create backups, look for those that 
support the various types of back- 
ups: a full backup (backs up all 
files), an incremental backup (backs 
up any new and changed files since 
the last full backup), or a differential 
backup (backs up any new and 
changed files since the last full or in- 
cremental backup). Being able to 
choose which type of backup you 
want not only saves a lot of space, it 
also saves a lot of time. 

Also, make sure that the soft- 
ware doesn't use a pro- 
prietary format to 
create the back- 
up files. When 







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Drive-imaging programs, such as Acronis True Image, are 
designed to make copies of everything stored on a hard drive. 



this is the case, only the backup soft- 
ware you used to create the backup 
can be used to access the backup 
files. This restriction is a major 
hassle if you plan to access the back- 
up files using multiple computers 
or are afraid you won't have the 
backup software installed in the 
future when you need to open the 
backup files. 

Instead, look for backup software 
that saves files in their native format, 
which will allow you to simply drag 
and drop files from the backup loca- 
tion to another folder on your com- 
puter. Another option is to use 
software that creates backups as EXE 
(executable) files, which will auto- 
matically open when you run them 
on any computer. 

In addition, the best backup pack- 
ages can back up far more than just 
your files and folders; they also can 
copy certain parts of Windows so 
that you can restore everything — 
from your Desktop icons to the en- 
tire OS — should disaster strike. 

Another thing to consider while 
shopping is the need to find software 
that can make backups directly to 
the type of backup media you want 
to use. We'll discuss the differences 
among various types of media in the 
following section. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 51 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



Mirror Backups zqiubfifl * 




F% acking up individual 
O files or folders is 


typical backup software 


drive to the new drive, so 


can't do. 


you just need to install 


good, but sometimes 


Drive-imaging software 


the new drive in the old 


you want to go all out 


is very handy when you 


drive's place, and every- 


and back up your entire 


want to do something 


thing boots up as normal. 


hard drive. In these situ- 


such as upgrade your 


In addition, drive-imaging 


ations you need drive- 


existing hard drive to a 


software is useful for 


imaging software, such 


higher-capacity model. 


restoring your computer 


as Acronis True Image 


Normally, this type of 


after a hard drive disaster. 


9.0 Home ($49.99; 


project would require for- 


It may not be completely 


www.acronis.com) or 


matting the new drive, re- 


up-to-date, but restor- 


Symantec's Norton 


installing Windows and 


ing the system from a 


Ghost 10.0 ($69.99; 


all of your applications, 


backup in this manner 


www.symantec.com), 


and manually transferring 


is much better than 


with the ability to copy 


all of your files to the new 


starting from scratch. 


critical system files even 


drive. Drive-imaging soft- 


(For more information, 


when Windows is run- 


ware lets you make an 


see "Be A Disaster 


ning, which is something 


exact copy of the existing 


Master" on page 63.) 1 


Safety 'Net 






D roadband Internet 
D access is reaching 


the Internet and store 


in place so that if a hard 


it on the hard drives of 


drive fails, your data is 


an increasing number 


the company offering 


always mirrored on one 


of homes and offering 


the service. 


or more additional hard 


faster Internet access 


This offers several ad- 


drives, making it nearly 


speeds at lower prices 


vantages over storing 


impossible to lose. You 


than ever before, and 


your data at home. The 


also can get to your 


several companies are 


best off-site services en- 


data from any compu- 


taking advantage of this 


crypt your data so that 


ter that has Internet 


fact to offer off-site data 


even people who work 


access or make back- 


backup services. These 


at the company can't ac- 


ups on the road, both 


services let you transfer 


cess it, and they have re- 


of which are great for 


your backup data over 


dundancy mechanisms 


laptop users. 1 



Media Types 

Even though Windows XP's own 
Backup program can only save back- 
ups directly to a hard drive, most 
third-party apps can save backups 
to any type of storage device. 

Rewriteable and recordable CDs 
and DVDs can store data very eco- 
nomically, plus they make it easy for 
users to transfer backups from one 
PC to another, as long as the other 
computer has an optical drive that 
can read the discs. In comparison, 



recordable discs are much less ex- 
pensive than rewriteable discs, but 
the information stored on record- 
able discs is permanently burned 
onto them, making it impossible for 
you to ever edit or rewrite that in- 
formation. As long as space is avail- 
able on recordable discs and the 
recording session isn't considered 
"closed" by the burning software, 
you can still add more data to them, 
but any files already on the discs 
are set in stone. Because of these fac- 
tors, recordable discs are good for 



archiving data that you want to store 
for a very long time and don't plan 
to make any changes to, such as dig- 
ital photos or music files. 

Alternatively, rewriteable discs 
make it possible for you to access the 
data stored on them just as you would 
access data stored on a hard drive. As 
such, you're able to overwrite data as 
necessary and write files to the disc 
multiple times. Rewriteable discs are 
more expensive than recordable discs 
and don't store quite as much data 
because of the special formatting they 
require, but those tradeoffs are gener- 
ally worth the extra flexibility. 

An extra hard drive is another pos- 
sibility you should consider when 
choosing backup media. Most com- 
puters have enough room to accom- 
modate an additional internal hard 
drive, which is an extremely econom- 
ical way to store hundreds of giga- 
bytes of data. Just make sure any drive 
you purchase uses the same interface 
your computer's motherboard sup- 
ports before making a purchase. 

With a little bit of extra cash, you 
can purchase an external drive that 
attaches to the computer using a 
USB or a FireWire interface. When 
comparing external drives, you 
should only consider those that use 
USB 2.0 or FireWire because they 
are many times faster than the USB 
1.0 interface used by some of the 
cheapest drives. 

An external hard drive that uses a 
NAS (network-attached storage) 
interface is more expensive, 
but it's an incredibly con- 
venient option for those 
who have a home network. 
These drives connect di- 
rectly to the network instead of 
to one computer, letting any com- 
puter or other device that's attached 
to the network access the drive. This 
is nice because everyone in the house 
can make backups without having to 
rely on a particular computer, plus 
most NAS storage devices can be ac- 
cessed from any computer with 
Internet access, so you can even back 




52 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



up your vacation photos while you're 
still on vacation. 

Compression 
& Encryption 

When you see such 
figures as 800MB printed 
on a CD case or 4.5GB 
printed on a DVD case 
or 400GB printed on a 
hard drive package, those 
numbers tell you the 
amount of raw data the 
discs/drives can store. 

In reality, most backup 
programs use compres- 
sion technology to let you 
store up to 10 times that 
amount of data in the 
same amount of space. 
This extra storage comes 
with a few drawbacks, 
though. Compressing and 
decompressing data requires a lot of 
computer resources, so it takes a long 
time to compress large or numerous 
files. It also takes longer to access data 
stored in a compressed file than it 
takes to access data in its native 
format, so compression is best used 



Data Conversion Chart 




Comparing storage capacities and pricing among backup media 
is tough unless you know your megabits from your 
megabytes. Here's a basic breakdown: 



Terabyte = 


= 1,000 Gigabytes 


Gigabyte = 


= 1,000 Megabytes 


Megabyte 


= 1,000 Kilobytes 


Megabit = 


1,000 Kilobits 


Kilobyte = 


1,000 Bytes 


Kilobit = 1 


,000 Bits 


Byte = 8 Bits 





Plextor's 400GB PX-EH40L-NA hard drive 
uses a NAS (network-attached storage) interface that lets any computer on your home network access it. 




for backups you plan to store for a 
long time. 

Encryption is another feature sup- 
ported by most backup software that 
encodes your data so that only 
someone with the proper password 
can access the information. As with 
compression, encrypting and de- 
crypting data requires a lot of pro- 
cessing power; even so, we still 
recommend using encryption if 
you're backing up important or per- 
sonal information (such as emails or 
financial data) that you'd rather keep 
private. Just remember that if you're 
storing the data for a long time, 
there's an increased chance that 
you'll forget or lose the required 
password. 

A Solution To Every Problem 

So which backup solution is the best 
choice for you? That depends on how 
you use your computer. If you work 
with a lot of digital photos and video, 



Belkin's F5U602 lets you add both USB 2.0 and FireWire ports to 
your PC using a single expansion card. 



you're better off using an additional 
hard drive as workspace for editing 
that content and then archiving your 
original and edited files on inexpensive 
discs that are easy to label. 

Telecommuters should consider 
using off-site backup services that let 
them create and access backups from 
both home and the office, without 
requiring them to lug around a lot of 
hardware. If you plan to frequently 
access your backups, use an external 
hard drive, which lets you open files 
just as quickly as you are able to 
from your primary hard drive and 
offers plenty of storage space for 
storing files, eliminating the need 
for compression. 

Regardless of the type of backup 
software and hardware you choose, 
the other articles in this featured 
section will discuss how to make 
backups and how to restore your files 
when necessary. With prices so low 
and storage capacities so huge, it's 
never been easier or cheaper to buy 
the peace of mind that comes with 
backing up your precious data. II 

by Tracy Baker 



Smart Computing / June 2006 53 





A Rewind Button For Your PC 



Uh-oh. You installed a new 
device, driver, or program, 
and now your PC is running 
poorly. You've tried various 
fixes, such as Add Or Remove 
Programs or Device Driver 
Rollback in Windows XP, but you've 
still come to a dead-end. It's time to 
turn around and use a tool that Micro- 
soft introduced when it released Win- 
dows Me: System Restore. 

System Restore lets you restore your 
computer to a previous state — that is, a 
state that existed before you began en- 
countering your current problem. Run 
into trouble, and you can revert to an 
earlier state without losing personal 
files (recent or otherwise), including 
word-processing documents, email 
messages, and bookmarked Web pages. 
As you use your PC, Windows mon- 
itors changes to your system and appli- 
cation-related files and regularly creates 
what it refers to as restore points. To 
do this, it monitors all partitions and 
drives, as well as driver and application 
installations. During every 24 hours (in 
WinXP) or 10 hours (in WinMe) of 
computer use or 24 hours of calendar 
time, System Restore automatically cre- 
ates a restore point, even if you haven't 
made any system changes. For ex- 
ample, if you shut down your com- 
puter and don't turn it on for three 
days, System Restore will create a re- 
store point the next time you boot up. 



In addition, each time you in- 
stall a program from a CD or other 
media, the tool creates a restore point. 
This also occurs when you install an 
app via downloaded software. So, even 
if you're using WinXP's Automatic 
Updates feature, System Restore will 
create a restore point once the updates 
begin the installation process. Plus, you 
can create your own restore points 
using the System Restore Wizard. 

Over time, you can see that the 
number of restore points could add 
up, especially if you use your PC fre- 
quendy. Rather than eat up hard drive 
space, System Restore stores only be- 
tween one to three weeks of restore 
points. How far back you can go to a 
restore point depends on three factors: 
how much you use your PC, how large 
your hard drive is, and how much drive 
space your PC has allotted to store 
System Restore data. As System Restore 
reaches its limits on creating restore 
points, the tool drops the earlier restore 
points. Thus, if you plan to use System 
Restore, you'll need to do so relatively 
quickly after you notice a problem. 

(NOTE: If your Windows drive has 
fewer than 200MB of free space, WinMe 
and WinXP will disable System Restore 
by default.) 

As you use System Restore, the 
wizard walks you through selecting a 
restore point on its calendar. Simply se- 
lect a date, and the tool restores your 
PC to that earlier time period, with 
one major exception: System Restore 
doesn't touch your My Documents 
folder, and it doesn't alter any files that 



use such common file extensions as 
.DOC or .XLS. 

A Few Caveats 

Although it's a useful tool, System 
Restore is far from being a complete 
solution. Because System Restore is 
limited to a maximum 12% of hard 
drive space, it may purge useful restore 
points before you have a chance to use 
them. In addition, it will often render 
programs useless if they were installed 
after the restore point; so even though 
the programs' data files aren't deleted, 
you may need to uninstall and reinstall 
any such programs to make it possible 
to access these data files. Because of 
this, we recommend that you run Add 
Or Remove Programs to take care of 
potential problems before you use 
System Restore. 

And, perhaps most importantly, 
System Restore isn't a true backup 
system. Yes, it can back up copies of the 
Registry, but that doesn't mean you 
can count on it to back up other things. 
For instance, it won't serve as a back- 
up for earlier versions of Microsoft 
Word files you accidentally edited or 
changed. System Restore works best 
when it's part of a complete restoration 
system, along with a dedicated backup 
application and such Windows tools as 
Add Or Remove Programs. By using a 
combination of these tools, you can get 
your system up and running again 
much more quickly. II 

by Heidi V. Anderson 



54 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



n 



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311 05 

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Top Candidates For Convenience, Capacity & Cost 










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2 



I) deally, backup mediums should 
be easy to use so they won't dis- 
courage users. They should be fast, 
high-capacity, inexpensive per 
gigabyte, and trustworthy. They 
) also should be easy to move so 
users store them in safes or other 
locations to guard against viruses, theft, 
and disasters such as fires and floods. 
That's a tall order, but you can cover 
most of these bases with the right de- 
vice. Here's today's best options. 

External Hard Drives 

The best backup medium for most 
home and small-business users is an 
external hard drive, which is a stand- 
alone drive en- 
closed 



in a shell that connects 
to your PC through a USB 
2.0, FireWire, or eSATA (ex- 
ternal Serial Advanced Technology 
Attachment) cable. These drives are big 
and fast, and you can configure most of 
them to perform automatic backups 
without your help. 

An external drive is more effective at 
protecting your data than an internal 
hard drive is. For one thing, you can 
disconnect an external drive and store 
it offsite. Also, with the backup drive 
disconnected, any virus or malware 
that infects your computer won't be 
able to contaminate your backups. 

You can buy external drives that 
bundle with backup software, such as 
Maxtor's OneTouch II External 200GB 
($145; www.maxtor.com) or Western 
Digital's External 80GB ($83; www 
.westerndigital.com). Like many com- 
peting drives, "OneTouch" Maxtor lets 
you start a backup by pushing a button. 
Another type of external drive is a 
NAS (network-attached storage; an 
appliance containing one or more hard 
drives). A NAS connects to your net- 
work router, so you can let some or all 
of the PCs on your network access it. It 
takes more know-how to set up a NAS 
than an external drive, but they operate 
on the same principles for the purpose 
of this article. Of course, a network also 
lets you back up files from one PC's 
hard drive to another's hard drive. 



NETGEAR's Storage Central SC101 is a NAS (network-attached 
storage) kit that offers a very flexible way to turn hard drives you 
already own into backup storage for everyone on your network. 



You can build your own external 
drive or NAS if you already have an 
extra hard drive of suitable size. 
Enclosure kits, such as Penguin Gear's 
PG-380U2 ($28.99; www.penguin- 
gear.com), cost about $25 (and up) 
online. NAS kits, such as NETGEAR's 
SC101 ($109.99; www.netgear.com), 
start at $99.99. Most kits are for 
ATA/EIDE (Enhanced Integrated 
Drive Electronics) drives, but a few 
handle SATA drives instead. 

Removable drive carriage kits let 
you mount a hard drive in a removable 
tray, which slides into a dock you in- 
stall in a 5.25-inch drive bay in the 
front of your computer. Once you've 
backed up your files, you can pull the 
drive out of its dock (following its in- 
structions) and store it elsewhere. One 
example is StarTech. corn's SNT127A 
IDE Removable Drive Drawer Mobile 
Rack ($17; www.startech.com). 

Typical 3. 5 -inch desktop internal 
drives are fragile and may not survive a 
drop from a desk onto a hard floor. 
However, portable 2.5-inch external 
drives are much more rugged, yet still 
spacious enough for backup duty. The 
trade-off is that smaller drives cost 
more per gigabyte. 

Internal Hard Drives 

Many internal hard drives are faster 
than external drives, but they do have 
one flaw: They're always 
on and connected to your 
PC, so a virus or power 
surge could affect them. 
The same is true of a Type 



Smart Computing / June 2006 55 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



1 RAID (redundant array of in- 
dependent disks), in which a 
second hard drive automati- 
cally saves a copy of everything 
on your PC's original drive as 
an instantaneous backup. 

On the other hand, Dell 
(www.dell.com) uses a second 
internal hard drive in the 
DataSafe backup feature sold 
as part of some of its PCs. 
Because DataSafe combines 
RAID 1 with Symantec's Nor- 
ton Ghost (www. Symantec 
.com) software in a unique 

way, it drastically reduces the 

backup drive's vulnerability 
to malware. Of course, theft and dis- 
asters are still concerns. 

DVD & CD Drives 

Today's DVD±R/RW drives can 
record 4.7GB to DVD+R (recordable 
once), DVD-R, DVD+RW (rewrite- 
able), and DVD-RW media, as well as 
8.5GB to DL (dual/double-layer) 
DVD±R media. DVD burners, in a 
manner similar to CD-RW drives, also 
can write 700MB to write-once CD-Rs 
and 650MB to rewriteable CD-RWs. 

Blank media costs just 28 cents for 
DVD±Rs and 18 cents for CD-Rs on- 
line, so it makes financial sense to use 
optical discs for backups. DVDs and 
CDs are portable, too, so you can 
easily store them offsite. 

However, the optical backup option 
is "just not as convenient as hard 
drives, nor is it automatic," says Dave 
Reinsel, program director of storage re- 
search at IDC (www.idc.com). "Users 
have to remember to burn the DVD. In 
fact, choose any removable media, 
which provides the capability for 
offsite archive, and you introduce a 
manual process." 

DVDs and CDs are more resilient 
than hard drives, but they're also easy 
to scratch — except for discs with spe- 
cial coatings, such as TDK's Durabis 
line (www.tdk.com). Opinions vary 
on how long data lasts on optical 
discs, but you can expect at least a few 
years' reliability under normal indoor 




Sony's upcoming BWU-100A Blu-ray drive (price not yet set) 
will use discs that store 25GB ($20 to $25) or 50GB ($48 to $60) 
on a single disc, but its media will have to come down in price 
before Blu-ray can challenge DVDs. 



cartridge and runs at speeds 
between that of a DVD burner 
and a current hard drive. It 
isn't very economical, but it 
does have the advantage of 
using relatively tough car- 
tridges with excellent data 
longevity (Iomega estimates 
30 years). In addition, a new 
competitor for small and 
medium-sized businesses is 
Quantum's GoVault ($299; 
www.quantum.com) with 
40GB, 80GB, and 120GB 
cartridges ($135 and up). 



conditions away from bright light 
sources. Set your backup software to 
verify the data on every disc it writes, 
and you shouldn't have to worry 
about the occasional disc defect. 

Other Options 

The new Blu-ray optical disc format 
stores 25GB (single-layer discs; $20 to 
$25) or 50GB (dual-layer discs; $48 to 
$60) on BD-R (recordable once) or 
BD-RE (rewriteable) media, but it's 
currently too expensive to recommend 
over DVD media. The upcoming HD 
DVD format initially could be pricey, 
too. (Prices for computer-compatible 
drives in these categories were unavail- 
able at the time of this writing.) 

Iomega's REV drive ($340; www 
.iomega.com) stores 35GB per $50 



What Not To Use 



Combine Your Efforts 

Any storage medium — magnetic or 
optical, tape or solid state — can lose 
data. Some media are defective from 
the factory, and some develop bad 
sectors later on. 

Until we're satisfied that online 
backup services can protect our data's 
privacy with clear-cut legislation, we 
recommend a combination approach 
to backups. Make regular (perhaps bi- 
weekly) backups to an external hard 
drive, but also perform less frequent 
(maybe monthly or quarterly) backups 
to CD or DVD media. And be sure to 
store the optical discs in a safe deposit 
box, a relative's house, or some other 
safe, offsite location. II 

by Marty Sems 



Of course, you can use the following for light backup duty, but don't say we didn't 
warn you not to rely on them. They just don't compare well to today's better options. 

Device Type Comments 

Flash Memory These can and do die without warning; 

Drives/Cards their prices are decreasing 



Tape Drives 
(Travan, DDS, etc.) 



Slow with expensive-per-gigabyte media, 
although several formats have long archival life 



Zip/LS120 
SuperDisk Drives 



Some are better than others but slow and small overall 



Jaz Drives 



Floppy Diskettes 



Expensive per gigabyte and pretty scarce these days 

Unreliable, slow, barely any capacity; 
vulnerable to magnets 



56 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




^K nyone who depends on a com 
^V^k puter will eventually learn 
U ^L one very important lesson: A 
^ A backup is the only insurance 
R A against data loss. Fortun- 

™ ately, users have a multitude 
of options for creating backups. The 
most primitive option involves copying 
files to a secondary storage location, 
such as a floppy diskette, a USB drive, a 
second hard drive, or another com- 
puter on the network. This option is ef- 
fective when dealing with individual 
files, but it quickly proves unfeasible 
when trying to back up the contents of 
an entire folder or drive. For large-scale 
archiving, a backup utility is needed. 

Many users assume any backup 
utility will do. And most of the time, 
they're right. For average home com- 
puter users with average needs — such 
as a few folders' worth of digital doc- 
uments, spreadsheets, snapshots, and 
audio files — a basic backup tool set to 
run daily or once per week is quite 
adequate. But for those who depend 
on their computers for a living, some- 
thing more is needed to ensure their 
work. These users could benefit from 
advanced features such as data en- 
cryption and network support. 

Then there's the question of wheth- 
er you should use backup software or 
drive-imaging software. To read more 
about the differences between the two 
types, see "Backup Basics" on page 50 
and "Be A Disaster Master" on page 
63. Because each situation is unique, 




Mb 

Look For Performance You Can Count On 



we encourage all users to con- 
sider a variety of programs, in- 
cluding the ones we discuss in 
this article — which are primarily 
regarded as backup applications — be- 
fore settling on one program. 

Microsoft Backup 

The first backup utility every user 
should know about is Microsoft Back- 
up — you know; the one Microsoft hid 
on the installation discs for Windows 
Me and Windows XP Home. Users 
who want to run Microsoft Backup on 
WinMe or WinXP Home computers 
must install the utility manually from 
the installation disc. 

After inserting the installation disc 
in the optical drive and clicking the 
Exit button in the resulting dialog 
box, the user should open Windows 
Explorer and click the plus sign (+) 
that corresponds to the optical drive's 
icon. Next, the user should click the 
plus sign for the VALUEADD and 
MSFT folders (ADD-ONS and MS- 
BACKUP in WinMe), select the NT- 
BACKUP folder (in WinXP only), 
and double-click the Ntbackup.msi 
file (Msbexp.exe in WinMe) inside 
this last folder. The Windows Backup 
Utility Installation then will start 
loading. When it finishes, the user 
should click Finish and restart the PC 
to complete the process. 

Microsoft Backup is a bare-bones 
utility that lets users perform full and 
incremental data backups, but that's 
about it. The utility can't burn back- 
ups directly to optical discs, nor 
does it support scheduled backups. 



Users can add the utility to the 
Scheduled Tasks tool, which will 
launch the program window at a 
specified time, but users must follow 
the step-by-step wizard to execute 
the backup itself. There's no com- 
plaining about the price, though; 
Microsoft Backup is free, making it 
an excellent solution for users with 
minimal backup needs. 

Backup Manager Home Edition 6.0 

Most of the other utilities we cover in 
this article provide an array of advanced 
backup capabilities. As an example, 
consider what Genie-Soft's Backup 
Manager Home Edition 6.0 ($49.95; 
www.genie-soft.com) has to offer. 

Backup Manager Home boasts sup- 
port for AES (Advanced Encryption 
Standard; the government-supported 
128-bit standard for data encryption); 
scheduled automated backups; self- 
executing backups for restoration on 
any computer; and file filtering for 
backing up only those files that meet 
specific criteria in a selected folder or 
drive. Backup Manager Home also 
supports almost every type of backup 
device imaginable, including rewrite- 
able disc drives and network drives. 
Plus, it lets users restore individual 
files without restoring all the contents 
of the corresponding full or incre- 
mental backup. 

Users who invest in a full-featured 
backup utility such as Backup Manager 
Home get more than a bullet-list of 
features, though. They also get peace of 
mind. In a data-driven culture like ours, 
small businesses and self-employed 



Smart Computing / June 2006 57 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



individuals need to know their files are 
safe from corruption and loss, and a 
comprehensive backup utility such as 
this provides enterprise-level protection 
at a price most users can afford. 

Norton Save & Restore 

Symantec, arguably the biggest de- 
veloper of PC utilities, has recently 
announced the release of its most re- 
cent backup program, Norton Save & 
Restore ($69.99; www.symantec.com). 
Save & Restore is essentially an updated 
version of Symantec's popular drive- 
imaging software, Norton Ghost, with 
the addition of several features typically 
associated with traditional backup soft- 
ware, such as the ability to back up in- 
dividual files along with entire drives, 
as well as the ability to back up only 
files of a certain type, including digital 
images and videos. 

Although it costs more than compa- 
rable products and is available for use 
only with WinXP, Norton Save & Re- 
store is sure to become a serious com- 
petitor in the backup software market 
because of its many features. 

ShadowBack 

Among the most intuitive backup 
utilities is ShadowBack from Warm and 
Fuzzy Logic ($59.95; www.warmand 
fuzzylogic.com). Everything about 
ShadowBack is designed for ease of use, 
though its capabilities go far beyond the 
basics provided by Microsoft Backup 
and other low-end backup tools. 

With ShadowBack, users can create a 
backup schedule or set the utility to 
perform automated as-needed backups 
whenever data changes. The software 
delivers compression and encryption 
capabilities and can accommodate 
a variety of storage media and de- 
vices, including rewriteable discs and 
drives, USB and FireWire drives, tape 
drives, and network drives. Ultimately, 
though, ShadowBack gives users the 
ability to shape backup routines into 
processes that meet their particular 
needs and skill levels. 



Simple BackUp 

& BackUp MyPC 2006 Deluxe 

Sonic's Simple BackUp ($29.99; 
www.sonic.com) is just what it claims 
to be. The wizard-based program 
makes backing up a breeze by guiding 
users step -by-step through the process 
of creating and restoring data backups. 
The utility supports automatic back- 
ups, data compression, whole-system 
backups, and direct recording to most 
disc-based media. 

Users who want more than Simple 
BackUp has to offer should take a 
look at BackUp MyPC 2006 Deluxe 
($49.99). BackUp MyPC boasts many 
of the same features found in other full- 
featured backup utilities, such as a 
backup scheduler, support for a wide 
variety of backup media, as well as data 
compression and backup verification 
capabilities. It also comes bundled with 
Roxio's STOPzilla 
software for block- 
ing spyware and ad- 



Eazy Backup recognizes are Internet 
Explorer, Microsoft Outlook and 
Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape, 
Microsoft Money, ACT!, and Intuit 
Quicken and QuickBooks. The back- 
up utility also has the ability to restore 
data from these programs to their 
original file locations. 

Eazy Backup isn't the only utility 
with backup support for popular 
programs; ShadowBack and Back- 
up Manager Home also boast varia- 
tions of this feature. Likewise, several 
software developers have released 
niche-oriented backup tools that are 
designed for the sole purpose of 
backing up data files associated 
with particular applications. Some 
available titles for backing up Micro- 
soft Outlook, for instance, include 
AJSystems. corn's OutBack Plus 5 
($39.95) and Genie-Soft's Genie Out- 
look Backup 6.0 ($29.95). 



ware pop-ups. 



Eazy Backup 3 



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How many users 
know the name of 
the folder that con- 
tains email mes- 
sages? How many 
know the Registry's 
file name and loca- 
tion? The answer to 
both questions: not 
many. How then do 
these users know 
they're backing up 
all of their mission- 
critical data? The fact is they don't, 
and that's where a program such as 
Eazy Backup 3 from AJSystems.com 
($49.95; www.ajsystems.com) comes 
in handy. 

The Eazy Backup developers pro- 
grammed the backup utility to re- 
cognize several popular programs 
and then automatically backs up 
the data associated with those pro- 
grams. Among the programs that 



I i ■ MMH)|M^M^^Mi^| 




Completing the Windows Backup 
Utility Installation Wizard 








| Finish | 







You won't find Microsoft Backup on your copy of Windows Me 
or Windows XP Home; for some reason, Microsoft left it on the 
installation discs, requiring you to find it and install it from there. 



NovaBACKUP 7.3 

NovaStor's NovaBACKUP 7.3 
($49.95; www.novastor.com) is a 
backup utility with a long history. 
The latest version provides an array 
of popular features, including sched- 
uled backups, network backups, dis- 
aster recovery, the ability to back up 
open files, and support for all kinds 
of storage media. It also has a virus 



58 June 2006 / www.smartcompiiting.com 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



scanner for identifying (but not fix- 
ing) infected files. 

Another option NovaStor provides 
is a Web-based backup service. After 
downloading NovaStor 
Online Backup Services 
Client, users can upload 
their data backups to a 
secure online server. 
The service makes up 
for its lack of advanced 
features by providing 
unparalleled conve- 
nience to mobile PC 
users who would rather 
not cart around a back- 
up drive or pile of CD- 
RWs. NovaStor's back- 
up service costs as lit- 
tle as $9.95 per month 
or $99.50 annually for 
storing 500MB of data 
online. Other online 
backup services include 
SwapDrive's @Backup 
(www.backup.com) and 
Pro Softnet's IBackup 
(www.ibackup.com). 

WinBackup 2.0 

The full-featured WinBackup 2.0 
from Uniblue ($49.95; www.liutil 
ities.com) offers a host of extended 
capabilities that one expects from a 
top-of-the-line backup utility, in- 
cluding support for most backup 
media, network drives, and RAID ar- 
rays, backup scheduling, bit-level data 
validation to ensure data integrity, AES 
encryption and password protec- 
tion, and automated backups of 
popular program data sets. 

Users willing to forego the most 
recent backup innovations can 
get the previous version of Win- 
Backup by visiting the Uniblue 
Downloads page at www.liutilities 
.com/support/downloads and 
clicking the WinBackup 1.* Up- 
date link. The early-model utility 
offers many of the same features 
found in WinBackup 2 and, best 
of all, it's free. 




BackUp MyPC Deluxe 
earned the Smart Choice 
distinction when Smart 
Computing released its 
head-to-head, in-depth 
roundup review in May 
2005. A year later, it 
remains a smart choice 
for home users. 



EMC Retrospect 7.5 Professional 

It's one thing to have a network; 
it's another to have an active network. 
Users who have ac- 
tive home and small- 
office networks, on 
which multiple users 
are creating and modi- 
fying mission-critical 
files on multiple sys- 
tems, would be wise 
to invest in a net- 
work-capable backup 
utility such as EMC's 
Retrospect 7.5 Profes- 
sional ($129; www.emc 
insignia.com). 

Formerly owned by 
Dantz, Retrospect offers 
a robust set of backup 
capabilities, including 
support for scheduled 
backups, AES encryp- 
tion, file compression, 
multiplatform networks, 
practically any stor- 
age media, and an automated dis- 
aster recovery feature for quickly 
resolving issues of catastrophic 
data loss. 

In addition, Retrospect can back 
up data in open files as well as 
archive old files to maximize local 
storage space. 

Best of all, for owners of small 
networks, the utility's license agree- 
ment lets users install the program 
on a central server PC and two net- 
worked client computers. 



EBH 



3E55E- 



Double ImageO 

Less expensive but just as robust as 
Retrospect is Host Interface's Double 
ImageO ($99; www.hostinterface.com); 
it can handle just about any backup job 
a user throws its way. Plus, in addition 
to the features one would expect, such 
as scheduled backups and support for 
every kind of media available, Double 
ImageO boasts advanced functions, 
such as the ability to back up open files, 
run multiple backups simultaneously, 
back up data on a network or RAID 
array, and create detailed backup re- 
ports. And what if a user wants to ac- 
cess a backed up file from a PC that 
doesn't have Double ImageO installed 
on it? That's just fine, because the 
utility saves all data files in their native 
formats for easy retrieval on any PC. 

The utility also has an unlimited li- 
cense, which means users can install it 
on all the computers in their networks 
without paying extra licensing fees. 

Pick One 

Obviously, it's quite easy to find a 
quality backup utility. Many of the 
titles we profiled offer free 15- or 30- 
day trials to prospective customers, and 
we strongly encourage you to take ad- 
vantage of these free trials when se- 
lecting a backup utility. Mission-critical 
data depends on it. II 

by Jeff Dodd 



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Creating an account 
with an online backup 
service is a simple 
matter of completing 
a user profile (as 
shown for @Backup), 
providing a valid 
credit card number, 
and installing a 
backup client. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 59 




felMDlte 




Step-By-Step Archiving, Scheduling & Drive Imaging 



Now that you know what 
software to use and what 
to be wary of when mak- 
ing backups, it's time to 
do the deed. Regardless 
of whether you want to 
make a long-term copy of your data, 
schedule automated backups for 
your important files, or make a 
backup of your entire hard drive, 
we've got you covered. 

The Importance Of Archiving 

If the data you want to back up 
will never be edited or otherwise 
changed, archiving is the best solu- 
tion. This is a one-time backup 
of data you plan to store long-term, 
and it's best suited for original (pre- 
edited) digital photos and videos, as 
well as digital music and vital docu- 
ments that you may need to access 
(but not change) in the future. 

All backup programs are suitable 
for archiving, including the Backup 
utility that ships with Windows XP. If 
you have WinXP Professional, the 
software is already installed. (From 
the Start menu, click All Programs, 
Accessories, System Tools, and Back- 
up.) If you have WinXP Home, you'll 
need to install the software from the 



installation CD-ROM if you 
haven't done so already. For in- 
structions, see "Best Of The Backup 
Software Batch" on page 57. 

The Backup utility should start in 
wizard mode, but if not, expand the 
Tools menu and click Switch To 
Wizard Mode. Click Next, select the 
Back Up Files And Settings radio 
button, and click Next. The following 
dialog box asks what you'd like to 
back up; although it offers to copy 
your Internet Explorer Favorites and 
My Documents folder, let's pick files 
and folders manually by selecting 
the Let Me Choose What To Back Up 
radio button and clicking Next. 

Designate what you want to add to 
the backup by selecting checkboxes 
next to folders or individual files. 
Click folders in the left pane to dis- 
play their contents in the right pane. 
When you finish making your selec- 
tions, click Next and select a place to 
store the backup file. You can either 
manually enter a file path or click 





Hew to Back Up 

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Be sure to select the option to verify the data 
in Windows XP's Backup utility, as it's worth 
the extra time to make sure your system 
properly completes the backup. 



Browse to navigate to the appropri- 
ate folder. Remember that WinXP's 
Backup utility won't store backups 
directly on an optical disc, but you 
can read our "Transferring Backups" 
sidebar to find out how to work 
around this restriction. 

Give the backup file a name, click 
Next, and click Finish. There are ways 
to use the Backup utility for addi- 
tional tasks, such as backup sched- 
uling and incremental backups, but if 
you plan to do anything beyond 
archiving data, we strongly recom- 
mend using a more robust third-party 
backup application. 

Schedule Incremental Backups 

All good backup software lets you 
schedule automated backups, but 
only the best of these applications 
saves you time and computer re- 
sources by doing this incrementally. 
With an incremental backup, only 
files that have been changed or added 
to a folder are added to the existing 
backup file. Using this method, the 
backup process takes much less time 
than it does when the entire folder is 
backed up. 

Genie Backup Manager Home 
(S49.95; www.genie-soft.com) is a 
great program that allows for incre- 
mental backups, so we'll use it as 
our example application. To set it 
up, launch the software, click Back- 
up in the right pane of the main 
window, make sure the Create New 
Backup Job radio button is selected, 
and give the backup a name. Click 
Next and select the radio button that 



60 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



corresponds to the backup 
media you plan to use. The 
software can make backups 
directly to CDs or DVDs, but 
for incremental backups, it's 
usually better to make them 
to a hard drive because the in- 
formation in the backup fre- 
quently changes (and is more 
likely to be accessed often). 

Click Next and choose the 
My Profile tab. This section 
lets you back up information 
such as Outlook email mes- 
sages, Internet Explorer Fav- 
orites, the Windows Desktop 
settings and icons, and the 
Windows Registry. Select all 
the options you want to back 
up, and if you also want to back up 
particular files and folders, choose 
the My Folders tab so you can select 
the appropriate checkboxes in that 
section, as well. 

The My Plugins tab is where you'll 
see a list of miscellaneous files that 
Genie Backup Manager can automati- 
cally back up. You can even click 
Download New Plugins to get addi- 
tional options you can designate as 
files you want to automatically back 
up. These options, available via the 
Genie-Soft Web site, cover more 
games and programs than are in- 
cluded with the default installation. 

After you've selected everything of 
importance on these three 
tabs, click Next and select the 
Increment radio button. This 
action designates the backup 
as an incremental backup file, 
and because of this, future 
backups are created only if 
files you included in the back- 
up are edited or new files are 
added to specific areas. 

The Enable Rollback option 
maintains copies of original 
backup files and edited ver- 
sions of those files so you can 
revert to an earlier version if 
necessary. This is handy if an 
edited file becomes corrupted 
before Genie Backup Manager 




Genie Backup Manager's My Profile tool allows you to back up 
all sorts of files and settings that are impossible to access by 
merely using WinXP's Backup utility. 



has a chance to back it up, as you 
can simply access an earlier version of 
the file from the rollback archive in- 
stead of getting stuck with only the 
corrupted version. 

Select the Backup Without Com- 
pression option if you plan to access 
the backed up files a lot, or if you're 
worried about the entire archive be- 
coming corrupted (which is possible 
with compressed files). If you use 
compression, the Default compres- 
sion level is just fine and is much 
faster than the Best level. 

If you decide to use one of the 
security options, which adds pass- 
word protection to the backup file, 




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Be careful about using encryption for long-term backups, as you 
may have to remember the password a long time from now. 



remember that Zip password 
protection only works if you 
choose to compress the data. 
AES (Advanced Encryption 
Standard; the 128-bit standard 
for data encryption) is a far 
more secure option than a 
Zip password, but it adds an- 
other level of processing to 
the backup, and as a result, it 
slightly increases the likeli- 
hood that the backup may 
become corrupted. Even so, 
using AES is definitely worth 
this infinitesimal risk if the 
security of your data is ex- 
tremely important. However, 
AES-encrypted files are nearly 
impossible to crack, so just be 
sure to remember your password. 

Don't worry about enabling the 
SwiftRestore option; it's best to use it 
for creating archive files that you may 
not need to access for years to come. 
Click Next and then click Backup 
Now, and Genie Backup Manager will 
create your backup. 

Click Verify Now if you want to 
check the integrity of the data and 
then click Main Page. After that, click 
Schedule Wizard in the right pane, 
click Create New Schedule, select the 
name of the backup you just created, 
and click Next. Select Daily, Weekly, 
or Monthly from the drop-down 
menu (depending on how often you 
want to maintain the backup), 
and select any additional op- 
tions that might be necessary 
to fit the backup process 
within your schedule, such as 
the time frame and day of the 
week you want the software to 
run an automated backup. 
Click Next, enter the User 
Name and Password for your 
computer (if necessary), and 
click Finish. 

Genie Backup Manager will 
automatically maintain the 
backup file you created, in- 
cluding adding any new files 
created afterward or chang- 
ing files that are edited as the 



Smart Computing / June 2006 61 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



contents of the files and folders you 
selected change over time. 

Take The Drive-Imaging Route 

If you want to make a backup of 
your entire hard drive, or transfer the 
contents of an existing drive to a newer, 
higher-capacity drive, you should defi- 
nitely invest in a good third-party appli- 
cation that's designed for these tasks. 
Acronis True Image 9.0 Home ($49.99; 
www.acronis.com) is one such product, 
and it's very user-friendly. To use it, 
you must install the new hard drive as 
a secondary or slave drive using the 
instructions the drive shipped with, 
and then you need to make sure the 
new drive has as much or more storage 
space than the original hard drive. 




Acronis True Image 9.0 Home lets you create a 
carbon copy of your entire hard drive. 



After that, launch True Image, click 
Clone Disk, and click Next. Select the 
Automatic radio button, click Next, 
select the icon for the hard drive you 
want to copy, and click Next. This time, 



Transferring Backups 



Want to get the files 
you created with 
Windows XP's Backup 
utility onto an optical 
disc but don't have third- 
party backup soft- 
ware? If possible, use 
the disc-recording 
application that 
came with your 
recordable/rewrite- 
able optical drive. 
But if you don't have 
such an application, 
you can still use 
WinXP's integrated 
recording capabili- 
ties to find a way 
to store data on 
a CD. (Unfortun- 
ately, DVDs aren't 
supported.) 

Insert a record- 
able/rewriteable CD in 
your CD-R (CD-record- 
able) or CD-RW (CD- 
rewriteable) drive, se- 
lect Open Writable CD 
Folder when the option 



appears in the drive's 
dialog box, and click OK. 
If that option doesn't 
automatically appear, 
click My Computer 



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If you have WinXP, an option 
to create a writeable folder 
appears whenever you insert 
a blank CD in the computer's 
recordable/rewriteable CD drive. 

from the Start menu 
and double-click the 
CD-R/-RW drive icon. 
Navigate to the folder 
where you saved the 
backup file(s) and drag 



and drop the file(s) to 
the window that's open 
for the CD-R/-RW drive. 

Backup files that 
WinXP's Backup utility 
created use the .BKF 
file extension. If your 
settings currently 
hide file extensions, 
open any folder, 
open the Tools 
menu, click Folder 
Options, choose the 
View tab, deselect 
the Hide Extensions 
For Known File Types 
checkbox, and click 
Apply To All Folders. 
After the BKF file 
or files are visible 
in the CD-R/-RW 
drive's window 
(you can drag and 
drop as many backup 
files as space permits), 
click Write These Files 
To CD and click Next 
to finish the record- 
ing process. I 



select the icon for the drive you want to 
copy data to and click Next. If the new 
drive isn't completely empty, select the 
Delete Partitions On The Destination 
Hard Disk radio button and click Next. 

Click Next again, and select the 
Keep Data radio button if you want to 
keep a copy of all of the original data 
on the original hard drive; if not, se- 
lect Create A New Partition Layout to 
erase the original drive but leave it 
ready to store data in the future. 

Click Next and select Normal if you 
decided to get rid of the data on the 
old hard drive. This option overwrites 
the data several times, making the in- 
formation almost impossible to re- 
cover should someone get their hands 
on the old drive. Click Next and select 
Proportional to maintain the structure 
of the original drive but compensate 
for the additional space. Click Next 
and click Proceed to clone the drive. 

When the operation is complete, 
you should be able to install the new 
drive as the primary hard drive and 
then use the old drive for additional 
storage or to permanently store all of 
the files you just copied. 

For more information about the 
drive-imaging process, see "Be A 
Disaster Master" on page 63. 

A Bright Future For Backups 

Of course, if what Microsoft claims 
is true, you may not need articles such 
as this one once the company releases 
Windows Vista. The OS (operating 
system) successor to WinXP suppos- 
edly will include integrated backup 
software that is much more powerful 
than the Backup utility shipped with 
previous versions and include the 
ability to back up files directly to op- 
tical discs. Additional features remain 
to be seen, but until Microsoft finally 
releases Vista (which will likely take 
quite awhile), at least we have prod- 
ucts such as Genie Backup Manager 
and True Image to cater to our 
backup needs. II 

by Tracy Baker 



62 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 






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Put Your Backup Plan Into Action & Restore Your Data 



Just like setting your alarm 
clock each evening, per- 
forming computer back- 
ups is now second nature 
and a common element of 
your routine, right? And 
you know that when disaster strikes, 
those backups will immediately 
come to the rescue, restoring all 
your precious data that otherwise 
would be lost. 

However, even though we regularly 
follow the practice of creating back- 
ups, we almost never get a chance to 
actually restore them, and that's a 
good thing. But when you're facing a 
damaged hard drive that no longer 
boots, you don't want to be scram- 
bling to find restoration instructions 
because that's when you need your 
data and you need it now. 

Ditch The Drive 

Although backups are essential, 
they can be useless if there's no prac- 
tical method to restore them when an 
emergency strikes. Today's backup 
programs help you create a bootable 
CD, DVD, or floppy diskette that you 
can use to recover data stored on your 
backup media. Using one of these 
discs or floppies, you can boot your 
computer directly to that media, 
which contains a program that will 



walk you through the process 
of restoring data. 

Before you use emergency media 
to restore your data, you'll first need 
to address your dead hard drive. By 
"dead hard drive," we mean a drive 
that your BIOS (Basic Input/Output 
System) can't recognize, or if it does 
recognize the drive, it returns a diag- 
nostic message that indicates the drive 
has failed (such as "Primary master 
hard disk failure"). 

To restore your system, you'll need 
to replace the hard drive, insert your 
emergency recovery disc or floppy, 
and follow the prompts to begin the 
recovery process. If you didn't make a 
complete backup of your system (that 
is, create a mirror image of your 
drive), you won't be able to use this 
method. Instead, you'll need to install 
Windows from scratch on your new 
hard drive and then install your 
backup software before being able to 

restore any files that you 

previously backed up. 

If you did make a com- 
plete backup (mirror image) 
of your system, we'll walk 
you through the process of 
restoring your Windows 
environment and data, and 
we'll use Acronis True Image 
(www.acronis.com) as an 
example of how this type of 
backup software and the 
restoration process works. 




emergency disc (or floppy) that you 
made when you created your system 
backup, although some backup appli- 
cations, such as Symantec's Norton 
Ghost, require only the original pro- 
duct disc (not an emergency disc). 

Without that emergency or pro- 
duct disc, you won't be able to boot 
your computer using the backup soft- 
ware, but that doesn't mean you can't 
restore your system; as we mentioned 
earlier, you'll need to install Windows 
on your new drive, reinstall the back- 
up software, and then restore the 
backup using your backup discs or 
files stored on another drive. But the 
boot disc can save you lots of time by 
helping you immediately restore your 
system to the new drive without in- 
stalling Windows. 

Restoring your system backup 
might sound like a harrowing process, 
but it's really quite simple because 
your backup software will walk you 

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Time To Restore 

A crucial ingredient of 
the backup recipe is the 



Always create a bootable CD or floppy diskette using 
your backup software so you'll be able to restore your 
backups directly to your new drive. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 63 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



through the process. In fact, the only 
potentially tricky step is booting to the 
emergency disc, and that's only trou- 
blesome if your BIOS isn't configured 
to automatically boot to a CD because 
you'll need to manually configure it. 

After you install your new hard 
drive using the instructions included 
with the drive, turn on your com- 
puter and insert your emergency CD 
or floppy, and then restart your 
computer (and because you 
won't be in Windows at this 
point, you'll need to press the 
restart or power button on your 
PC). The BIOS should recognize 
that there isn't an OS (operating 
system) on the drive and auto- 
matically look to boot from the 
CD or floppy. If you see the soft- 
ware starting, you're in luck; but 
if the system returns an error and 
stops loading, you'll need to enter 
the BIOS. 

If this is the first time you've 
entered your BIOS, don't worry 
too much about it because you 
can't damage your system unless 
you manually make changes and 
confirm the changes before ex- 
iting the BIOS. With that said, 
never make changes unless you 
understand what those changes 
will do — many of these settings 
can profoundly affect your sys- 
tem's performance. Because the 
BIOS may vary among different 
computers, you should check 
your motherboard manual to see 
how to change the device boot 
order, but we'll walk you through 
a typical scenario here, using the 
Phoenix BIOS as an example. 

On the main Phoenix menu, 
use your keyboard's arrow keys 
to select Advanced BIOS Fea- 
tures and press ENTER. On the Ad- 
vanced BIOS Features screen, select 
First Boot Device, press ENTER, and 
in the pop-up menu, select CDROM 
(if you're using a floppy to boot 
your backup software, select Re- 
movable) and press ENTER. Press 
ESC to exit the Advanced BIOS 



Features screen, select Save & Exit 
Setup, press Y to confirm the chan- 
ges, and press ENTER. 

Once your computer restarts, the 
BIOS will recognize the bootable CD 
or floppy and start the backup pro- 
gram. The particular software we're 
using (Acronis True Image) first dis- 
plays an introduction screen that 
offers three options: Start the full 



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similar in your BIOS [Basic Input/Output System]) displays 
the order of boot devices on your system, use the First 
Boot Device entry to change the order. 




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In the Acronis True Image application, you can browse 
through other connected hard drives or your media 
to search for backup images. 



version, which includes drivers for 
USB, PC Card, and SCSI (Small 
Computer System Interface) devices; 
start the safe version, which doesn't 
include support for those devices; or 
boot into Windows. Acronis recom- 
mends starting the full software ver- 
sion to provide support for any 



related devices, but if you're restor- 
ing a backup to a standard IDE (Inte- 
grated Drive Electronics) hard drive, 
you can use either the first or the 
second option. 

After choosing either the full or 
safe version of Acronis True Image, 
the software displays its main win- 
dow, which offers a variety of func- 
tions. The second option, Recovery, 
will allow you to restore the 
image of your previous hard drive 
to your new drive, so click it to 
launch the Restore Data Wizard. 
Click Next to go to the Archive 
Selection dialog box, where you 
can browse for the image file you 
previously created. True Image 
backup files use .TIB extensions, 
so select the TIB file that repre- 
sents the latest image of your 
system drive and click Next. 

In the following dialog box, 
select Restore Disks Or Partitions 
to completely restore the image to 
your new hard drive and click 
Next. When the next dialog box 
displays the drive image, select it, 
click Next, and then select your 
new hard drive (or drive parti- 
tion) on the subsequent dialog 
box, and click Next. Now you'll 
need to select the restored parti- 
tion type, and because this image 
will serve as your system drive or 
partition, select the Active option 
and click Next. (True Image auto- 
matically selects the original parti- 
tion type, so the restored partition 
type should already be Active.) 

Now True Image gives you the 
opportunity to specify the size and 
location of the restored partition. 
The minimum partition size dis- 
played by True Image represents 
the amount of data that exists in 
the image, but you shouldn't limit 
your partition to that minimum size 
because you'll run into problems later 
when installing more programs or oth- 
erwise storing more data on that drive. 
Try to keep at least 5GB of extra 
space on the system partition, and 
leave the rest as free space that you'll 



64 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Cover Story: System Recovery 



be able to format and partition later in 
Windows. If you already formatted 
your drive according to the size of the 
partitions you desire, you won't need 
to change the partition size. For in- 
stance, if you restore your old 12GB 
drive to a new 60GB drive and create a 
new system partition of 18GB, the re- 
maining storage on the new hard drive 
will remain on the drive but will be 
unallocated and unformatted, and you 
won't be able to use that remaining 
storage until you format it. Although 
it's technically possible to restore the 
12GB image to a single, 60GB partition 
that comprises all of the new drive's 
storage, it's best to create a separate 
system partition, as this is gener- 
ally more efficient than storing all of 
your computer's data — including the 
system files — on one partition. 

If your backup software allows 
you to create new partitions (or a 
single, second partition) from the 
remaining space on your new 
hard drive during the restoration 
process, it's less of a hassle to do it 
at that time, rather than wait to 
create new partitions and format 
them after restoring your system 
partition. However, if you do 
choose to wait until after you re- 
store your system partition to deal 
with the remaining space, you can 
use the Disk Management utility 
in Windows XP to create and 
format partitions (for informa- 
tion on using the Disk Manage- 
ment utility, visit support. micro 
soft.com/?kbid=309000). For older 
Windows versions, it's better to use a 
partition utility such as Symantec's 
Norton Partition Magic ($69.95; www 
.symantec.com/home_homeoffice 
/products/system_performance 
/pm80) or Paragon Partition Manager 
($49.95; www. partition-manager 
.com), though the included Fdisk 
utility also can do the job, albeit in 
a more complicated manner. (For 
more information on using Fdisk, visit 
support.microsoft.com/kb/q255867.) 

Returning to the True Image ex- 
ample, click Next after selecting your 



restored partition size. True Image 
then asks if you want to assign a log- 
ical drive letter to the restored parti- 
tion. Because this will be your system 
partition, stick with the recom- 
mended "C" selection and click Next. 
In the resulting dialog box, you can 
select options for checking the backup 
before restoration and checking the 
file system after restoration. The file 
system check is fine, but if this is your 
only image backup, don't waste your 
time performing a backup check be- 
cause if it's corrupted, you're out of 
luck anyway and will need to reinstall 
Windows from scratch. Click Next. 

The next dialog box asks if you want 
to restore another partition or hard 
drive from the backup archive, but be- 
cause you're restoring only your system 





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You're almost home free at this point. If you previously 
tested your backup archive using your backup software, 
the restoration process will be successful. 



drive, select No I Do Not and click 
Next. Finally, you'll see a confirmation 
dialog box that displays your recovery 
file, target partition, and restoration 
partition. If all looks as planned, click 
Proceed and relax while the software 
restores your backup image. 

After the process is complete, True 
Image displays a confirmation dia- 
log box that indicates the software 
successfully restored your backup. 
When True Image then returns to 
the main dialog box, click Opera- 
tions and Exit to quit True Image 
and restart your system. 



Full Steam Ahead 

Once you finish restoring your 
backup to the new hard drive, check 
to make sure all of your data is intact 
and everything is operating correctly. 
If your Windows environment is un- 
stable, you should immediately save 
all of your files and settings to a 
backup because you might need to re- 
install Windows if your backup soft- 
ware didn't properly restore your 
backup files. If your backup restora- 
tion was successful and you have 
backups of other partitions contained 
on that original drive, you can now 
restore those to your new drive. 

The beauty of backup programs 
that create image files of your hard 
drive or partition is that they copy the 
entire file system to the new 
drive, along with the OS and 
other files, which means you 
won't need to endure the hassle 
of manually formatting and parti- 
tioning your drive before you re- 
store the backup file. However, 
not all backup software is the 
same, so follow the software's in- 
structions for preparing your new 
drive before restoration. Also, if 
you simply create backups that 
contain only your important files 
and settings and not an image of 
your hard drive, you'll need to re- 
place your hard drive, reinstall 
Windows, install the backup soft- 
ware, and restore your files. 
Although you might never en- 
counter a hard drive failure, it's always 
wise to use your backup software to 
test your backup files in the event you 
ever need them. For example, Acronis 
True Image includes a Check Archive 
Wizard that inspects the integrity of 
any of your backup archives to ensure 
they're fit for action when the need 
arises. After all, when you lose your 
hard drive, you won't have the oppor- 
tunity to create a new backup, so you 
should always be sure your backup 
files are ready to go. II 

by Christian Perry 



Smart Computing / June 2006 65 



vN 




Every operating system is bound to run into 
problems. The 18-page term paper you 
worked on so diligently might disappear. The dig- 
ital pictures of the grandkids at the lake may 
simply vanish. Losing data can be scary and frus- 
trating. Even more frustrating is not knowing how 
to recover from this situation and prevent it from 
happening again. The next time you can't find a 
solution to a computing question or problem, 
consult the Smart Computing Q&A Board. This 
subscriber-only feature is a great resource for get- 
ting quick and helpful responses to your com- 
puting problems. 

Before posting your backup or data recovery 
question on the Q&A Board, be sure to check out 
the Tech Support Center and its extensive re- 
sources, including an error message search, 
solutions knowledgebase, and a wide range of 
troubleshooting articles. 

It may also be helpful to utilize the Q&A Board 
search at the bottom of the page, because more 
than likely, someone has had the same lost-data- 
woes you are experiencing. You can search by key- 
word and sort your results by relevance or a specific 
date range to make finding answers quick and easy. 

Log on to SmartComputing.com and click the 
Q&A Board link. 



To ask your question, click the Post A Question 
link in the upper-right of the page (make sure 
you are logged in to the site). 



Use the Subscribe To This Message link at the 
bottom of the question to be notified by email of 
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66 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



PC Project 



Wireless Network 




Add A USB Hub To Your PC 



Digital cameras, MP3 players, 
digital video cameras, printers, 
and scanners — the list goes on. 
These days, it seems like almost every 
electronic device imaginable can be 
connected to your computer. Although 
newer computers make it easy to do so 
by offering multiple USB (Universal 
Serial Bus) ports (through which you 
can connect those devices), you may 
still run short of ports. 

That's where a USB hub can come 
in handy. (This device is not to be con- 
fused with a USB switch, which allows 
you to connect one device, such as a 
printer, to multiple PCs.) A USB hub 
contains multiple USB ports, or small 
USB sockets. If you only have one or 
two USB ports on your PC, a USB hub 
can make life easier by giving you an 
abundance of USB ports. Rather than 
routinely unplugging one device from 
your PC in order to plug in another, a 
USB hub allows you to simultaneously 
connect your printer and, say, your 
digital camera and MP3 player, to your 
PC. It also has the added advantage of 
placing your USB ports in a more 
easily accessible location than the back 
of your computer where many PC's 
USB ports are found. 

Setting up a working USB hub is a 
fairly simple procedure, provided 
you've done your homework. Your 



A USB hub allows you to 
connect multiple USB devices 
to your computer through 
one USB port on your PC. 




first step is to take stock of your cur- 
rent system to make sure that it will 
allow you to connect a USB hub. A 
USB hub allows you to add additional 
USB ports to your system, but it does 
not create USB capabilities for your 
computer. In other words, if you don't 
have an existing USB port on your PC, 
which is often the case with older PCs, 
you will not be able to connect a USB 
hub to your computer. 

In general, PCs made before 1997 
don't support USB. If you aren't sure 
whether your PC is USB-ready, we 
recommend you visit the USB Imple- 
menters Forum and download the free 
USB Evaluation Utility at www.usb 
.org/about/faq/ans3. 

Your second step is to spell out ex- 
actly why you need a USB hub, be- 
cause that will determine the type of 
hub you buy (and consequently how 
you add it to your system). Keep in 
mind that a USB hub will not work for 
every device or situation. For example, 
a wireless network may not work with 
a USB hub because its hardware may 
need a dedicated USB port. 

There are two main types of USB 
hubs: bus-powered and self-powered. 



Computer 



Printer 




A bus-powered hub, also called an un- 
powered hub, is one that draws its 
power from the PC. A self-powered 
hub, also known as a powered hub, is 
one that draws its power from an ex- 
ternal power supply unit. Some 
devices don't work well with bus-pow- 
ered hubs. For instance, devices that 
require a significant amount of power, 
such as scanners and external hard 
drives, typically don't run well, if at 
all, through unpowered USB hubs. In 
fact, we recommend that you get a 
powered hub even if you don't think 
you need it now, simply because you'll 
likely need one eventually. 

Another item to consider is the USB 
version of the device, along with your 
PC's USB capabilities. When USB 
technology was first introduced, USB 
1.0 (and 1.1 shortly thereafter) was the 
standard. Today's version 2.0 is no- 
ticeably faster (it bumped the speeds 
from 12Mbps [megabits per second] 
to 480Mbps). And USB 2.0 hubs are 
backward-compatible, meaning they 
will work with 1.0 USB ports and de- 
vices. A USB 2.0 device may require a 



Scanner 





Camera 




Smart Computing / June 2006 67 



PC Project 



USB 2.0 hub. Consider the devices 
you'll be connecting and be sure to 
read any documentation. 

Once you're ready to invest in a USB 
hub, you can do so for about $20 to 
$60. For example, Belkin (www.belkin 
.com) offers a 4-port hub for $19.99, 
and Adaptec's (adaptec.com) XHub4 
device, which also features four ports, 
sells for $59.99. Of course, before you 
purchase any particular device, be sure 
to verify that your computer meets the 
device's minimum system require- 
ments. Also, read the hub's users 
manual as installation instructions may 
vary among devices. 

Before installing the hub, just as you 
would with any new piece of hardware, 
we recommend you back up your hard 
drive. Then, unpack the USB hub and, 
assuming you're using a powered hub, 
plug the power cord into a power 
outlet. Connect the USB cable from the 
USB hub into an open USB port. 
Depending upon the particular hub you 
buy, the documentation may instruct 
you to do this in the reverse order, and 
it may tell you to make sure your PC is 
turned off as a safety precaution. 

Also depending upon the USB hub 
you buy (and on the operating system 
you're running), you may also need to 
install a device driver, or software that 
comes with a peripheral that enables 
the peripheral device to communicate 
with a PC. Insert the CD-ROM into 



USB hubs come in many shapes and 
sizes, including this built-in photo 
frame hub from Adaptec. 



the CD drive and follow the on-screen 
instructions. Put the USB hub in a 
convenient location, such as on top or 
to the side of your PC, so you can 
easily connect your USB devices. 

Test all of your USB devices by re- 
booting your PC and testing each de- 
vice, one at a time. It's also a good idea 
to test a device in each port on the hub 
to make sure all the ports are working 
well. This is a quick process; because 
USB devices can be hot-swapped, you 
don't need to shut down the computer 
or the device each time you try out a 
port. Lastly, you can plug in multiple 
devices. And if you have more than, 
say, four devices, you can get a 6- or 7- 
(or perhaps even more) port USB hub, 
or you can daisy-chain USB hubs to- 
gether. In theory, you can run up to 
127 USB devices at once, although few 
users will take advantage of this capa- 
bility. And if you're using powered 
USB hubs, manufacturers recommend 
all daisy-chained hubs are using the 





A 7-port hub, such as the 

Hi-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Hub 

from Belkin, allows you to connect 

up to seven USB devices through 

one USB hub. 



back view 



3*» ■**» -s* -tii -3*1 



power adapters that came with them 
so that all ports on all hubs receive the 
required power. 

If your sole reason for upgrad- 
ing your PC's USB capabilities is to 
increase its speed, it won't do you 
any good to invest in a USB 2.0 hub. 
(When selecting a USB hub, though, 
we recommend you buy a 2.0 one so it 
will allow you to run your devices as 
quickly as possible; there's no reason to 
upgrade to an old standard.) Keep in 
mind that the system runs to the lowest 
common denominator of speed. If the 
USB hub is 2.0, but your PC's USB port 
is 1.1, the highest speed the device will 
operate at is the 1 . 1 speed. 

If you want to increase the speed of 
your USB connections, you can install 
an expansion card instead of a hub. 
The process for installing an expansion 
card is a bit more complicated than 
that for installing a USB hub, however: 
If you want to make it as easy as pos- 
sible to listen to your MP3 player 
through your computer speakers while 
downloading your digital pictures and 
printing a Word document, using a 
USB hub is likely your best option. II 

by Heidi V. Anderson 



68 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Broderbund Print Shop Deluxe 20 

Open Projects From A Variety Of Sources 



Desktop 
Publishing 

Beginner 



20 for Windows 
98/Me/2000/XP 



gi 



Opening a project in Broderbund Print Shop 
Deluxe 20 can be a little more involved than 
opening a file in Microsoft Word because of the 
number of available options. You can open pro- 
jects you have worked on and stored in the Project 
Gallery, on your PC, or from an outside source. Or 
you can search for and open a QuickStart Layout. 

The Project Picker will be open if you have just 
started up Print Shop. Otherwise, click New 
Project and Project Picker on the Object Toolbar 
along the left side of the Print Shop window. 

Click Create A Project in the Project Picker to 
display the available projects. Click Invitations, 
Customize A QuickStart Layout, and Next. You 
can also open a QuickStart Layout by clicking the 
Search Projects button in the Project Picker and 
then the All Projects tab in the Project Gallery. 
Lastly, you can click File and Search Projects from 
the Design Desk to open the Project Gallery. 



Find & Save 
A Project 

Define terms in the 
Select Type Of Pro- 
ject, Choose Project 
Category, and Enter 
Search Words areas 
to search for a partic- 
ular kind of project 
in the Project Gal- 
lery. Click View and 
Advanced Search to 
display more criteria 
and refine a search. 

You now should 
have a selection of 




Open projects 

you previously 

created and 

saved in the 

Project Gallery's 

My Projects 

section. 



QuickStart Layouts displayed. Browse the pro- 
jects, right-click the one you want, and choose 
Select. The Project Gallery closes and the layout 
appears on the Design Desk. 

Save the project you currently have open by 
clicking File and Save As. The Save As dialog box 
lets you save the project as a file in the same way 
as you would save a word processing file, for ex- 
ample. Enter a name for the project and select a 
folder to save it in. 

You can also save the project to the Project 
Gallery by selecting the Add To Project Gallery 
checkbox at the bottom of the Save As dialog 



box. Click the Category drop-down menu to 
choose a category or add one of your choosing by 
clicking the New button. The new category will 
be available from the Add to Project Category 
drop-down menu and will appear in the Choose 
Project Category box of the Project Gallery. Click 
Save, File, and Close. 

Open Your Own 

You will open saved projects in different ways, 
depending on how you saved them. 

Click File and Open and browse to where you 
saved the project if you saved to your PC but not 
to the Project Gallery. Select the appropriate pro- 
ject file type from the Files Of Type drop-down 
menu to search for a particular type of project. 

Click the project name, and a preview of it 
will appear on the right side of the dialog box. 
Open it as you would any other file. Make 
changes to the project and save it again as de- 
scribed above. 

Changes you make to a project you open from 
a file like this will show up in the My Projects 
area of the Project Gallery if you chose the Add 
To Project Gallery save option. A new version of 
the project will appear in My Projects each time 
you edit the project and save it with a different 
name. This is a good way to save various versions 
of a project and then compare them side-by-side. 

Import Projects 

You can import projects into the Project Gallery 
that you or someone else created on another PC. 
The project can be modified and printed once it is 
imported, just like any other project. 

Open the Project Picker from the Design Desk 
by clicking File and Search Projects. Click the My 
Projects tab and then File and Import. The 
Import Projects dialog box opens, letting you 
choose from projects on your PC, a floppy 
diskette, or a CD. Choose a category in which to 
save the project by clicking Add To Project 
Category or add a new category by clicking New. 
Click Import. This process doesn't work if your 
project is already in the My Projects area of the 
Project Gallery. II 

by Tom Hancock 



Smart Computing / June 2006 69 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Online 



Consider Online Backups 



Mozy (Beta) 
Beginner 



Computers come with unique dangers to 
match their unique abilities. Although data 
loss ranks pretty high on the list of scary potentiali- 
ties, all too few users back up their data regularly. 

Online backup services can help. Mozy (www 
.mozy.com) is a clean, free service that allots you 
1GB to 2GB of online storage space and includes 
simple backup software that takes care of almost 
everything. At the time of this writing, the service 
was in beta and didn't yet offer larger, paid storage 
plans. Folks looking to back up gigabytes of video, 
music, or photos will probably find traditional so- 
lutions more cost-effective anyway. However, for 
important-yet-manageable small files, such as word 
processing documents, 2GB can be a lifesaver. 

Mosey On Over 

Mozy requires registration with a "real" email 
address, but at the 



_ISprea±he 

DOWordPrac 

Email and 

s?i _±E Favorit. 



_l Photos 5 
(Music 
; ""i _IVideoan 



Mozy is a free, 

online backup 

service that offers 

2GB of storage 

space and an 

easy-to-use, 

set-and-forget 

backup client. 



time of this writing, 
Mozy would double 
your storage space — 
from 1GB to 2GB— for 
filling out a simple 
survey form. 

After you register, 
click the confirmation 
link in the email Mozy 
sends you and then you 
can download and in- 
stall the Mozy software. Once you have it running, 
Mozy asks for your login information, which is the 
email address and password you supplied during 
registration. Next, you'll need to select whether you 
want to encrypt your backup data with Mozy's en- 
cryption key or use one of your own. (If you use 
your own key, make sure you don't lose it.) 

With the initial settings out of the way, the 
main Mozy backup window appears; in it, you'll 
see four tabs that contain all of the configuration 
options. Under the Backup Sets tab, Mozy lists 
some helpful predefined backup options, such as 
all documents (with standard word processing ex- 
tensions) or all pictures. One note of caution: 
These automatic sets include only the files found 
in Windows' Documents And Settings folders 
(such as My Documents). If you keep files on an- 
other drive or in another folder, Mozy's prebuilt 
sets may not capture them. 



That's where the next tab, Filesystem, comes into 
play. You can pick files and folders from anywhere 
on your system and include them in your backup. 
The file tree works as it would in other programs, 
so click the plus signs (+) next to drives and folders 
to drill down to the right subfolder. Then add or 
remove check marks next to the folders to select or 
deselect them for your backup set. 

Next, click the Schedule tab. By default, Mozy 
will start new backup jobs periodically when your 
computer isn't in active use. If you'd rather control 
exactly when a backup starts, click Manual. 

The last tab, My Computers, provides a sum- 
mary of how much of your Mozy backup space is 
being used. A single user can back up files from 
more than one computer to his Mozy account, but 
all of the computers will share the same 1GB or 
2GB of backup space. Click Save to finalize your 
backup configuration. 

Sit Back 

Mozy takes care of your backup job from here 
on out. The first backup may take some time be- 
cause transferring a lot of files across the Internet is 
pretty slow compared to writing backups to an ex- 
ternal or local network drive. Also, while a backup 
is in progress, your Internet connection may be no- 
ticeably slower because of the amount of band- 
width Mozy uses. 

After the first session, Mozy backups should take 
much less time. The software tracks which files 
have actually changed since the last backup and 
only uploads those that are different from their 
already-backed-up counterparts. 

Restoring files is almost as easy as uploading 
them. From Mozy's home page, click Account and 
then click Restore files. Use the drop-down menus 
to pick a date that matches when you last knew 
your files were OK. When you see a file tree with 
your files and directories on the left side, click the 
files or folders you want to restore and click 
Download. As with the backup process, per- 
forming a restore can take quite a bit of time de- 
pending on how large it is. 

Given Mozy's simplicity and its price tag, you of- 
ficially don't have a reason not to back up at least 
your most critical files. II 

by Alan Phelps 



70 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick Studies 
Problem Solver 



Microsoft Word 2002 

Balance Macro Security & Accessibility 



Word Processing 
Intermediate 



2002 for 

Win9x/Me/NT 

40/2000/XP 



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Macros from 

this company 

weren't 

accepted under 

the High security 

setting, so the 

Security Warning 

dialog box 

appeared. There 

is no way to 

enable the 

macros under 

this setting. 



Macros are great time-savers in Microsoft 
Word 2002. You can automate just about 
any action, including applying complex format- 
ting, creating a mail merge, or repeating custom 
printing routines. The macro then makes avail- 
able that series of actions at the click of a button 
or a keyboard shortcut. 

You may run across an instance, however, 
when a warning appears upon either opening or 
closing Word asking you to verify whether you 
want to enable macros from a named source. Or 
macros that used to work just won't anymore. 
These things can occur when security settings for 
macros are changed. 

Macros may contain viruses, so they need to be 
treated with care. They must be digitally signed 
from an accepted source to be fully secure. All 
macros shipped with Microsoft Office XP are dig- 
itally signed by Microsoft. 

Increasing security settings to thwart viruses, 
however, may decrease accessibility to macros. 
We will look here at how to 
use the macro security func- 
tions to manage this issue. 

Click Tools on the menu 
bar. Select Macro, Security, 
and the Trusted Sources tab. 
Make sure the Trust All 
Installed Add-Ins And Tem- 
plates box is checked. Click 
OK. Now any previously 
installed macros will work. Close Word and 
restart it, and the warning dialog box should no 
longer appear. 

Change Security Level 

The next thing to try is to adjust the security 
level of the macros that are allowed to run. Be 
careful here because of the virus threat. Make 
sure you trust the source of a macro before you 
allow it to become enabled. 

Click Tools on the menu bar and then Macro 
and Security. Click the Security Level tab. Here 
you see how restrictive the security is regarding 
macros. Word 2002 and all other Office XP appli- 
cations are installed with the macro security level 
set to High by default. 

The High setting causes all suspicious macros to 
be automatically disabled. A macro is suspicious if 



High, Thereforej you a 



it has not been digitally signed by a certified 
source. The macro will be enabled if it comes 
from a source you have designated as trusted and 
the signature is valid. Changing the security set- 
ting to High from Medium or Low can therefore 
cause a macro that was previously enabled not 
to run. 

Add A Trusted Source 

Macros must be signed and from a trusted 
source to be accepted automatically under the 
High and Medium security settings. Adding a 
macro developer to the list of trusted sources is a 
straightforward process. 

Set the macro security level to High as de- 
scribed above for maximum protection. Open the 
file or load the add-in (a supplemental program 
that adds custom commands or custom features 
to Microsoft Office) that contains the macros. 

The Security Warning Box or a Microsoft 
Visual Basic dialog box will appear if the pub- 
lisher of the macros cannot be automatically au- 
thenticated. Otherwise, the macros will be 
enabled. The Security Warning Box contains in- 
formation about the macros. The message This 
Publisher Could Not Be Authenticated will ap- 
pear in the box if the macros aren't signed by a 
trusted source. 

The box will contain the option Always Trust 
Macros From This Source if the macro is digitally 
signed. Select it and then click Enable Macros. 
The Always Trust . . . option is unavailable if the 
macro isn't signed, and the macros will not be 
enabled. Change the macro security level to 
Medium or Low if you trust the source even 
without a signature. 

Another situation may arise if you try to use a 
suspicious macro in the workplace. Your com- 
puter administrator might have put a security 
level for your workgroup in place to ensure that 
you use only macros that he has authenticated as 
safe. You will have to ask the administrator to 
allow the new macros. 

Check your security settings as described above 
if you start getting warnings about macros. This 
will help you balance security against viruses with 
accessibility. II 

by Tom Hancock 



Smart Computing / June 2006 71 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Corel WordPerfect 1 1 



Publish To PDF 



Office Suites 



Intermediate 



Win9x/Me/ 
2000/XP 



Publish To PDF 



General | Objects | Document | Advanced | 



■< 



cs .Smart Cc'nipu{irig_Qurrerit\US Constitution pdf 



Export range 
P Full document 
T Selection 


?" Current Page 
r Pages: j 



Compatibility: Acrobat l Z ' 

Author |The Founding Fathers 

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Publish To PDF 

offers multiple 

options and 

choices. 



WordPerfect 10 included a built-in utility that 
allowed you to export WordPerfect files to 
Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) without 
purchasing or downloading additional software. 
Publishing to PDF ensures that anyone can view 
your document exactly as you formatted it. 

For version 11, WordPerfect tweaked the PDF 
utility for better control over fonts, hyperlinks, 
and output file size. WordPerfect's Publish To 
PDF function is compatible with Adobe Acrobat 
versions through 5.0. The WordPerfect installa- 
tion discs also include Adobe Reader, so you can 
view the PDF documents you convert. 

Publishing Options 

To create a PDF file from a WordPerfect docu- 
ment, open the document and go to the File 
menu. Scroll down to Publish To. Choose PDF 
from the options. A Publish To PDF dialog box 
opens with the General tab, the first of four tabs, 
on top. The first step is to give the PDF docu- 
ment a name and specify where you want to save 
it. Click Browse. In the Save As 
PDF dialog box, locate the drive 
and folder where you want the file 
saved. Before you click Save, enter 
its name in the File Name box. 

Back at the Publish To PDF di- 
alog box, you must specify an 
Export Range from the four avail- 
able options. Full Document pub- 
lishes the entire file. Current Page 
converts only the active page to 
PDF. If you want to publish a range of pages, se- 
lect Pages and enter the page numbers you need. 
If you need only a small portion published, select 
that text prior to choosing Publish To PDF and 
then choose Selection under Export Range. 

The next section, Compatibility, refers to the 
version of Reader required to view the PDF docu- 
ment. WordPerfect 1 1 offers compatibility with 
Acrobat Reader versions 3.0, 4.0, or 5.0. When 
WordPerfect 11 first hit the shelf, it made sense 
to set compatibility at 3.0 or 4.0 to ensure that 
more readers would be able to view your PDF. By 
now, Adobe is up to Acrobat Reader 7.0, so this is 
no longer much of an issue. 

If you want the PDF file's Document Properties 
to reveal additional information, include the author 



33 ±hl 



and any useful keywords in those fields. Anyone 
viewing the PDF can see this information within 
the PDF by choosing File, Document Properties, 
and then Summary. 

PDF Style 

The final choice on the General tab is PDF 
Style. When you save a document as a PDF file, 
you choose from three predefined PDF styles. 
You may also choose to create a new PDF style or 
edit an existing one — we'll talk about those op- 
tions in another column. The three styles each 
apply specific settings to a particular output. 

PDF For Document Distribution is best used 
for documents that will be shared and printed 
on standard desktop printers. This is the default 
style and requires Acrobat Reader 4.0 and higher 
to view. Fonts are embedded and hyperlinks 
preserved. 

PDF For Editing delivers a higher quality PDF 
and is optimized for later editing or professional 
printing. It embeds all fonts and includes hyper- 
links, bookmarks, and thumbnails, as well as all 
images at full resolution. Not surprisingly, this 
choice creates the largest file size. 

PDF For The Web generates the smallest file, but 
results in compressed text, line art, and bitmap im- 
ages. It is optimized for viewing on the Web. Most 
fonts are not embedded, but the substitutions work 
fine on the Web. If you want a pristine document 
for printing, choose one of the other options. 

Things To Note 

When you've completed the style choices, name 
your PDF file and click OK. This is where another 
WordPerfect 1 1 improvement comes in — a status 
bar now lets you view the PDF conversion 
progress. The new PDF won't open automatically, 
though, so you'll need to go to the drive and 
folder where it was saved to view it. A double- 
click should open the document in your own copy 
of Acrobat Reader, assuming you've installed it. 

There's not yet a fix for WordPerfect's inability 
to render font color changes on the same line of 
text in PDF documents. Stick to one font color 
on a single line. II 

by Anne Steyer Phelps 



72 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick Studies 
How-To 



Microsoft Excel 2002 



Using Macros 



Spreadsheet 

Advanced 

2002 for 

Win9x/NT 

4.0/2000/XP 



Macro name: 

| Currency _Cell_Mat ro 

Shortcut key; Store macro |n: 

ctri+shift+isr |»jfflM;!mi 

Description: 



iFormats cells with currency formatting and blue shading 



Recording a 

macro may 

sound daunting, 

but you just 

describe it in this 

box and then 

carry out the 

steps you want 

the macro to 

imitate. 



So you want to be a programmer, eh? OK, 
maybe not. But even if writing code sounds 
like a drag, you'd be surprised how much easier 
life with Excel can be when you learn a little basic 
programming. We're talking about macros, 
simple programs you create to automate multi- 
step tasks you perform frequently. 

The tasks ripe for automation are nearly limit- 
less, but here's one simple example: Let's say you 
tend to work in spreadsheets with numerical data 
formatted with three decimal places. However, 
you regularly need to insert currency information 
in a blue-shaded cell, as well as some percentages, 
which get a red-shaded cell. You never know 
where you'll need to drop this data in, so you can't 
just set up certain cells to be ready for this kind of 
information. That means that when you enter cur- 
rency or percentage info, you have to format the 
cells to accommodate that data. Instead of doing it 
manually, create a macro to do all the formatting 
when you press one keystroke combination. 

Setting Things Up 

Start by choosing Tools, Macro, and Record 

New Macro. In the Macro Name box, enter a label 

for the automated process you're about to create. 

(No spaces are allowed, and the first character must 

be a letter.) In this example we'll set up a 

macro to format our currency cells, so 

let's name it Currency_Cell_Macro. 

The next box deals with a Shortcut 
Key, so let's talk about how you can 
launch a macro. The most common 
methods are going to the list of macros 
under Tools, Macro, and Macros and 
choosing it off a list or creating a key- 
stroke combination that you press to 
start the macro. The latter option is more conve- 
nient, but remember that you build macro key 
combos around the CTRL key and another key. 
(You can mix in the SHIFT key if you want to use a 
capital letter.) Note that assigning a macro to some 
combo will override any existing assignments for 
the combo when the workbook containing the 
macro is active. So it's not smart to set up a macro 
using a commonly used key combination. With all 
that in mind, go to the Shortcut Key box and press 
the key you want to combine with CTRL to be- 
come a macro shortcut combo. 



Now you need to store your macro. If you stash 
it in This Workbook, the macro will work only 
with the workbook you're currently using. If you 
store the macro in Personal Macro Workbook, it 
will work whenever Excel is running. 

The description box gives you a chance to note 
what the macro does. By default, Excel inserts 
info about when you created it, but it's wise to 
say something about what it does. 

Record The Macro 

Now you're ready to start telling Excel the pro- 
cedures your macro should carry out. This is no 
harder than walking through the steps yourself. 
Just click OK and then go through the steps the 
macro should imitate. In our case, we right-click 
a cell, choose Format Cells, choose Currency for- 
matting, and add a blue pattern. Click OK in the 
Format Cells dialog box. 

Now go to the little Macro toolbar that has ap- 
peared on-screen and click the box. Presto! You 
just became a programmer! 

Running Your Macro 

To run the macro, press the keystroke combina- 
tion you assigned to it. Or go to Tools, Macro, and 
Macros; click your macro's name; and click Run. 

To get really fancy with your macros, you can do 
things such as assign them to run when you click 
shapes in a spreadsheet. You could, for example, in- 
sert a large red AutoShape circle with the text Click 
Here To Format The Active Cell For Hotel Ex- 
penses. To connect a macro to the shape, right-click 
one of the sizing handles on the object and choose 
Assign Macro. Then on the list that appears, select 
the macro you've already set up to format cells as 
your company requires for hotel costs on expense 
reports. If you format the AutoShape with No Fill 
and No Line (right-click the shape and go to Colors 
And Lines), the text appears by itself, working like a 
hyperlink on the Web. 

If you'd like to impress yourself with the pro- 
gramming you just did, take a peek at the exciting 
Visual Basic code behind your macro. Choose 
Tools, Macro, and Macros. Click a macro's name 
on the list and then click Step Into. II 

by Trevor Meers 



Smart Computing / June 2006 73 




Quick "Hps 

Secrets For Succeeding In Common Tasks 




by Stephen J. Bicelow 



Memory 



Microsoft 
Word 



Wireless 
Networks 



I just installed a new memory module 
in my laptop, but once it's installed, the unit 
won't boot. Is the memory bad, or did I install the 
module wrong? 

Answer. Power down the laptop again and try re- 
installing the memory module. Make sure that it's 
installed evenly and completely. Also make sure 
that any other memory modules are still installed 
properly. If the problem continues, try removing 



the new module and see if the system returns to 
normal. If it does, you can be pretty sure that the 
new module is faulty. 

Memory devices are sensitive to static discharge 
from your body, so leave the module in its protec- 
tive antistatic packaging until you're ready to place 
it in the laptop. Before you touch the module to 
install it, ground yourself by touching something 
metal to prevent damage to the module. 



Word is always changing my document 
as I type. Is there a way to stop this? 

Answer. Microsoft Word 2003 supports autoformat- 
ting, which analyzes the document and its compo- 
nents and then changes the format to suit established 
rules. This works fine as long as the autoformatting 
matches your vision of the document, but autofor- 
matting will often make unexpected or unwanted 
changes. However, you can work around this. 



If you see any formatting you don't want (for ex- 
ample, Word turns a URL into a hyperlink), you 
can simply click Edit and Undo AutoFormat to 
undo that most recent automatic change. If 
you'd prefer to disable autoformatting entirely, 
just click Tools and AutoCorrect Options and 
select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. Now se- 
lect or deselect the autoformat options you want 
and click OK. 



Will some better antennas on my wire- 
less router help to extend my range or speed? 

Answer: Wireless data transfers all depend on 
signal strength. As the range increases, the signal 
weakens, so the wireless system slows down the 
data transfer to maintain its connection. Better an- 
tennas can improve the signal strength, allowing 
for faster wireless performance and/or 



greater wireless range. However, a new antenna 
must be compatible with your router. Still, just 
dropping cash into new antennas isn't a guar- 
antee of improvement. And even if there is an im- 
provement, there's no way to tell how much 
improvement to expect. Try moving your laptop 
closer to the router and see if the data speeds ac- 
tually improve noticeably. If so, new antennas 
might help. 



AutoText AutoFormat Smart Tags 

AutoCorrect AutoFormat As You Type 



G "Straight quotes 
Ordinal; (1st) wi 

□ Hyphens (--) with dash (— ) 

*BaltT and _italic_ with real formatting 
LJ Internet and network paths with hyperlinks 

Momati, numbered IBs 

Bo,<» lines 
Hi.fc 

■. ■'. ; ' ■ . J ■ ■ ■ . 

.■'■.■ ■■:."-.-. ; :-' : ;y as you type 

Set left- and First-indent wiih tabs and bacbp 
Define style; based on your formatting 



Use the AutoCorrect 
Options feature to enable or 
disable Word's automatic 
formatting actions. 



3 



jithg t. Playback 
ling 

dy Server [UPnP] 



Connection Options 

My Connection speed is: 

□ Assume I amalwa^si 
Sign me in automatic. 

□ Enable Ricay 



DSLVCable [256 Kbps] 



; ::'■!:■;::; 

::■■;■■ v K 
56 Kbps 

Single IDSN [64 Kbps) 
DuallSDN (128Kbps; 

DSL/Cable (384 Kbps] 
DSL/Cable (512 Kbps] 
DSL/Cable (768 ICbps] 



csr 



System 

!► Auto-Protect 
Script Blocking 


Security Risk Categories 




What to scan foi 




Internet 


i hese Herns cannot rm excluded from a scan. 




► Email 


Spywtiie til Hi Ariwtiie Msks - Programs that can com prom 


settle privacy of 


Instant Messenger 


your data. 




Livellpdate 


[7 Snyware 






Otliei 


AthlithMiiil ss-cmiry Nsl.s - Programs that Increase the risk 


oyour 


1 Moris 


17 Dialers 




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17 doke Programs 
17 Remote Access 
17 HackTools 








(7 Other 




| Default All 


1 OK II Cance, II Page Delauhs 1 





Configure media clients such as Rhapsody 
to operate at the optimum speed for your 
current Internet connection. 



Tools such as Norton Internet Security 2006 
can check for and block spyware and adware 
from your PC. 



74 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Quick Tips 




Online Music 



Speakers 



Security 



Microsoft 
Outlook 



Antivirus 
Software 



n: Is it possible to use music services (such 
as Rhapsody) with a dial-up Internet connection? 

Answer. This is very common for laptop users who 
like to use such services away from their broad- 
band connection, and clients such as Rhapsody 
(www.rhapsody.com) can accommodate a wide 
range of connection speeds from 28.8Kbps (kilo- 
bits per second; dial up) to 10Mbps (megabits per 



r. Is it better to buy a monitor with or 
without speakers? 

Answer. There are trade-offs. Integrated speakers 
are certainly a convenience: They don't need to be 
powered separately or painstakingly positioned. 
But integrated speakers may not offer you the 
power or sound quality that you can find in good 



second; conventional Ethernet LAN [local-area 
network]). You can tell Rhapsody your preferred 
connection speed by starting Rhapsody and 
clicking Tools, Preferences, and Connection and 
then selecting the appropriate speed from the 
drop-down menu. Remember that slow dial-up 
speeds will result in long streaming times, and you 
might experience disconnections common with 
dial-up connections, but it will work. 

external speakers. If you're looking for basic busi- 
ness or gaming audio, integrated speakers will 
likely fit the bill. An audiophile or media enthu- 
siast might opt for the superior sound of external 
speakers. Of course, speakers should not be the 
determining factor in your display choice. Always 
make sure that the display quality will meet your 
needs before worrying about the speakers. 



What is spyware and adware? Is it 
worth buying security software that checks for 
things like that? 

Answer: Spyware is software that downloads and 
installs to your PC and reports information back 
to a collection point. Adware is software that gen- 
erates pop-ups and other annoying behavior. 
Spyware is usually considered to be the greater 
threat because of its secretive operation. There's 



no way to know just what information it's col- 
lecting or where it's being sent. Adware is typically 
not as dangerous, but it can still slow your PC. You 
should consider spyware/adware protection along 
with standard firewall and antivirus tools. Security 
software such as Norton Internet Security 2006 can 
deal with both of those threats by looking for sig- 
natures — telltale pieces of code that are unique to 
spyware or adware. Once a suspicious item is de- 
tected, it can be disabled, blocked, or eliminated. 



I get lots of meeting requests via Microsoft 
Outlook, but they're often labeled so badly that I 
have a hard time remembering what they're for. Can 
I change the name of a meeting or appointment 
without having to request a new appointment? 

Answer: You can easily change the subject of a 
meeting or appointment in your Microsoft 

n: Is it better to buy new antivirus software 
when the subscription period expires, or is it 
better to simply renew the subscription? 

Answer: It depends on your needs. Renewing an 
antivirus subscription is typically less expensive 
than purchasing a new security product, so if cost 
is your bottom line, renew your existing subscrip- 
tion. However, software is constantly improving, 



Outlook calendar by simply double-clicking the 
appointment. When the Appointment form 
opens, just erase the poorly worded title and type a 
more meaningful title into the Subject line. You 
might take a moment to add some additional 
notes about the appointment to the detail area. 
Now click Save And Close. The improved label 
should appear in the calendar. 

and new features are added to make the security 
product more valuable. So it may be worth consid- 
ering some of the newest products before renewing 
your old one. For example, if your current security 
software only handles viruses, but you'd also like to 
protect against spyware or add intrusion detection, 
it may well be worth moving to a new product at 
renewal time and taking advantage of the one-year 
subscription that accompanies a new purchase. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 75 



Tidbits 



Compiled by David Whittle 
Graphics & Design by Lindsay Anker 

Your PC 
& Music 

A Match Made In Heaven 



You've probably noticed that digital music has, quite 
literally, changed the world. Still, many PC users are 
simply not aware of everything a PC can do with 
music. These days, various products are available that make 
it easy to make music a more integral part of everyday life. 



4 




V u u i. 



Turn Your PC Into An Ultra-Jukebox 

If you haven't yet copied your CD collection to your PC, 
made it a jukebox, and used the songs to create your own 
CDs, don't wait another minute. If you have Windows 
Media Player or iTunes on your PC, you're set. Another 
good option (it's also free) is Yahool's Musicmatch Jukebox 
(www.musicmatch.com/download/free). With any one of 
these free programs, just connect to the Internet and put 
an audio CD in your drive — the program should auto- 
matically identify the CD and copy the songs, properly 
named and tagged, to your hard drive. This library will 
allow you to set up customized playlists for listening 



to your 

own mix of 

songs. You can 

then burn these mixes to CD. 

You get even more capability by upgrading to Musicmatch 
Jukebox Plus 10 ($19.99) or similar software, such as Magix 
mp3 maker 10 deLuxe ($29.99; www.magix.com) or Cake- 
walk Pyro 5 ($29 [download]; www.cakewalk.com). Addi- 
tional features may include slideshow visualizations, 
advanced format conversion, enhanced tagging, CD-label 
printing, audio editing, and special effects. 



Amateur Music-Making 

If you're an amateur musician inter- 
ested in making your own music, an in- 
vestment in the right tools will take you 
to new levels of creative enjoyment. 
Cakewalk's USB Music Pack ($49) is an 
excellent place to start — it lets you use 
your PC to cap- 
ture, record, 
compose, 



76 June 




orchestrate, synthesize, mix, arrange, trans- 
pose, edit, master, produce, play, burn, 
share, and enjoy your own music. It comes 
with the software (Music Creator 3) and 
hardware (a USB MIDI [Musical Instru- 
ment Digital Interface] device) that you 
use with an electronic MIDI keyboard to 
capture whatever you play on the instru- 
ment in editable form on your PC. You can 
then display and manipulate music. 

For a remarkably small investment, 
coupled with a willingness to devote the 
time it takes to learn how to use your new 
PC tools, you'll be ready to move your 
music-making pleasure to a new level. 



Learn To Sing 



If you enjoy singing and would like to use 
your PC as a voice tutor, take a look at Singing- 
Coach Unlimited ($99.95; www.carryatune.com 
from Carry-A-Tune Technologies. This product 
analyzes your vocal range and plays back songs 
tailored for your range, and while you sing along, 
it gives you real-time feedback on your perfor- 
mance, helping you see and hear where you 
might be off pitch, rhythm, or tempo. Whether 
you're a beginner or an expert, SingingCoach 
makes improving your singing a fun and produc 
tive experience. 




J> 



Cell Phone Ringtones 



®®®W 



Have you ever wished you could identify your cell 
phone's distinctive ring immediately, rather than won- 
dering if it's your phone or someone's nearby with the 
same default ring? You could use a customized ring- 
tone — and the good news is that it's not as tough as you 
might think. Your PC will let you convert a clip from a 
digital song into an instantly recognizable ringtone that 



will let you know that it's your phone that's ringing, not 
some stranger's. There are dozens of programs you can 
use to convert your music files into ringtones: Try the free 
www.tonethis.com to see if your phone is supported. 
If not, go for the $19.95 Xingtone Ringtone Maker 
(www.xingtone.com), which supports almost all phones 
and carriers and lets you make unlimited ringtones. 




Hear The Music 

It's important to make sure your PC is equipped with 
high-quality gear. Sound cards from Creative Labs are 
always a safe bet, and when you want your music to be a 
private, quality experience, convenient wireless head- 
phones such as those from Sennheiser are a good choice. 





Fompming / June 2006 77 



Tech Support 



What To Do When . . . 



The DELETE Key 
Won't Work 

In Microsoft Word 



One benefit of word-processing 
programs such as Microsoft 
Word is that we can quickly erase our 
mistakes, misspellings, and poorly 
written sentences by pressing the 
DELETE button. Truth be told, we 
rely on it every time we sit down at 
the keyboard. 

So if the all-important DELETE key 
stops working, or appears to have 
stopped working, we realize the ur- 
gency of solving the problem. Here 
are some ways to bring the DELETE 
key back to life. 

Delete The Right Way 

We use certain keys on the key- 
board so frequently that we don't 
even think about how we use them. 
We form habits for inputting, mov- 
ing, and deleting text with certain 
keys while ignoring other keys that 
perform the same tasks. 

For instance, some users erase text 
primarily by highlighting the words 
and then pressing either the DELETE 
or BACKSPACE key. 

However, when they attempt to 
delete text one character at a time, 
they may forget that DELETE and 
BACKSPACE keys work opposite 
from one another. To use the DEL- 
ETE key, the cursor must be to the 
left of the character you want to erase. 
To use the BACKSPACE key, the 
cursor must be to the right of the 



character. It would be easy to confuse 
these two keys and assume one of 
them isn't working when, in fact, 
you're just using the key improperly. 
You can't delete text just by pressing 
DELETE if the cursor is to the right of 
the last typed character or space in the 
document. 

Check FilterKeys Settings 

Changing FilterKeys settings (in 
Windows XP, go to Start, Control 
Panel, Accessibility Options, and the 
Keyboard tab) is one of several ways 
that users can modify keyboard strokes 
to make using their keyboard easier. 
These settings help users whose fingers 
may not be as quick and thus rest too 
long on one key, resulting in mul- 
tiple — but unintended — keystrokes. 

FilterKeys settings don't disable the 
DELETE key, but they can make it 
seem as if the key isn't working cor- 
rectly, especially if these settings are 
turned on and you don't know about 
it. To see what we mean, in the Filter- 
Keys section, select the box next to 
FilterKeys and then click Settings. 
Under Filter options in the next di- 
alog box, click the Ignore Repeated 
keystrokes option. 

In the practice area on this screen, 
you can see for yourself how this set- 
ting alters the way the DELETE key 
and other keys work. When this set- 
ting is on, you cannot press and hold 




down the DELETE key to erase mul- 
tiple characters. Instead, you need to 
press the DELETE key one stroke at a 
time, slowly, to remove text from 
your screen. 

The settings in FilterKeys override 
any settings you create for keystrokes 
with the Keyboard section of the 
Control Panel. So if you're having 
trouble with a slow-working DELETE 
key, check the settings under Acces- 
sibility Options to make sure they 
haven't been turned on. 

Reset The Keyboard 

Microsoft Windows comes with 
predefined shortcut keys, such as 
CTRL-ALT-DELETE for opening the 
Windows Task Manager to, among 
other functions, shut down a non- 
responsive program. Word has pre- 
defined shortcut keys, as well, such 
as CTRL-B to create bold text. How- 
ever, using the Customize Keyboard 
screen, you can create new short- 
cut combinations. 

If pressing DELETE leads to an- 
other action besides erasing charac- 
ters or results in nothing at all, it may 
be time to reset the keyboard, so it re- 
turns to all the default shortcut com- 
binations. In Word, click Tools and 



78 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support 




Customize and then click the Key- 
board button at the bottom of the di- 
alog box. (It doesn't matter which tab 
is displayed on this screen.) 

On the Customize Keyboard screen, 
click the Reset All button. You'll be 
asked if you want to clear all the key 
assignments for macros and styles in 
your master Word template — called 
Normal, dot — the default format for 
all new documents. Click Yes to reset 
all of these. Or if you don't want to 
undo all the styles or macros you've 
created over time in this template, 
click No and scroll through the 
shortcut key assignment, if one has 
been made, for each command in all 
the categories on the Customize Key- 
board screen. Then you can modify 
only the key assignment that is af- 
fecting the DELETE key. 

Turn Off The WordPerfect Setting 

Word contains a couple of tools that 
assist users who are accustomed to 
using Corel WordPerfect. You can find 
them by clicking Tools and Options 
and then selecting the General tab. 
If you select the Navigation Keys 
For WordPerfect Users option, that 
changes the function of some of the 
keys, including DELETE. 



When this setting is turned on, you 
can use DELETE as you normally 
would to erase single characters, but if 
you highlight a block of text and press 
DELETE, a Delete Block? message will 
appear in the status bar at the bottom 
of your screen. If you don't know this 
WordPerfect setting is turned on, you 
might think your DELETE key isn't 
working properly. 

Check The Other DELETE Key 

As mentioned, user preferences 
play a big role in how often keys on a 
keyboard are pressed. Though key- 
boards have two DELETE keys, many 
users employ only the one found 
under the INSERT key and to the left 
of the END key. The other DELETE 
key is on the number pad. 

As is the case with many of the keys 
on the keyboard, the DELETE key here 
has a dual function. When the NUM 
LOCK function is turned on, the 
DELETE key is actually a period key. 
When the NUM LOCK key is off, the 
DELETE key works just like the main 
DELETE key we've been discussing. 

If you primarily use this DELETE key 
and find it isn't working, remember 
that the solution may be as simple as 
pressing NUM LOCK. (Pressing the 
NUM LOCK key will not affect the use 
of the other DELETE key.) 

A Tough Case To Crack 

We've presented a number of ways 
you can troubleshoot an improperly 
functioning DELETE key in Word. If 
you find that the DELETE key is causing 
you problems no matter what program 
you're working in, the problem is most 
likely hardware-related. 

That's your chance to crack open 
your keyboard to see if the problem 
lies within. Or spare yourself the mess 
and purchase a new keyboard. It's one 
of the most affordable pieces of hard- 
ware you can buy. II 

by Rachel Derowitsch 




•f Beep when keys preyed or accepted 
R ShowFilterKeystalus 



Turning on the FilterKeys 
settings drastically slows 
down the DELETE key. 



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When the WordPerfect navigation keys 
setting is turned on, the DELETE key 
can't erase a block of text unless you 
answer a prompt first. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 79 



Tech Support 



Examining Errors 



by Jeff Dodd 



Problem: A Windows XP SP2 
(Service Pack 2) user reports he 
periodically receives a Java error per- 
taining to Windows' installer package. 

Error Message: "Cannot load Java 
Runtime Environment. Error 1722. 
There is a problem with this Windows 
Installer package. A program run as 
part of the setup did not finish as ex- 
pected. Contact your support per- 
sonnel or package vendor." 




Solution: The JRE (Java Runtime 
Environment) is the software platform 
on which Java applets execute com- 
mands and perform functions. It is 
a necessary part of any system that 
wants to run Java applets. In this case, 
the reader's computer is unable to 
load the JRE, making it impossible for 
the computer to run Java software. 

The solution is to remove the 
troubled JRE and replace it with a 
new, uncorrupted one. The reader 
can uninstall the JRE simply by 
opening the Add Or Remove 
Programs tool, selecting Java 
Runtime Environment (it 
may be labeled as Java 2 
Runtime Environment SE, 
J2SE Runtime Environment, 
or something similar), and 
clicking the corresponding 
Remove button. He should 
repeat the process if necessary 
to remove multiple JRE in- 
stallations. When the process 
is complete, the reader should 
reboot his PC. 



The next step is for the reader to 
obtain the latest JRE and install it on 
his system. He can do so by visiting 
www.java.com/en/download and 
clicking the Manual Download link. 
On the resulting page, he should 
locate the Windows (Offline Installa- 
tion) option and click its corres- 
ponding Download button. The 
reader can follow the on-screen in- 
structions to save the file on his 
system, and when the download is 
complete, he should double-click the 
file to launch the installation. 

To complete the installation, the 
reader should just follow the on- 
screen instructions. For best results, he 
should opt for a custom installation 
and change the default installation lo- 
cation from C:\PROGRAM FILES\ 
JAVA to any other location on the 
Windows drive. Finally, he should 
restart his browser and go to www. Java 
. com/en/do wnload/installed.jsp, 
where he can verify that the installa- 
tion was a success. The error should 
be gone for good after that. 



Problem: A reader receives an error 

message followed by a major system 

slowdown. The problem seems to 

disappear if he disconnects his 

Visioneer OneTouch 9000 

scanner (and reappears when he 

reconnects the scanner). He has 

tried reinstalling the scanner to no 

avail. He also has scanned his system 

for viruses and spyware. 

Error Message: "Generic Host 

Process for WIN32 Services has 

encountered a problem and 

needs to close. We are sorry for 

the inconvenience." 

Solution: The reader's symptoms 
closely resemble those associated with 
a known conflict between WinXP and 



various HP scanners. That problem is 
resolved by obtaining and installing 
the latest drivers for the HP scanner, 
and we suspect a similar solution will 
work here. 

The reader should turn off his 
computer and disconnect his scan- 
ner. After rebooting his system, he 
should visit Visioneer's Web site 
(www.visioneer.com), access the Sup- 
port page, locate the latest driver for 
his OneTouch 9000 scanner, and 
download the driver to his computer. 
The reader then should locate the 
driver file on his system and double- 
click it to launch the installation. 

When the installation is complete, 
he should reconnect the scanner to his 
system. Hopefully, the error message 
will be gone for good. 




(l 




80 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support 



Problem: A reader frequently re- 
ceives an error message when she 
boots her PC. When the message first 
appeared several months ago, it 
prevented her from accessing the rest 
of her system, so she hired a repair 
technician, who reinstalled WinXP 
SP2. Even though the error message 
still appears, she can now click OK 
to close it and proceed with her 
computing. The reader has checked 
for viruses and spyware. 

Error Message: "Registry Recovery 

Error. One of the files containing the 

systems registry data had to be 

recovered by use of a log or alternate 

copy. The recovery was successful." 




Solution: This annoying problem is 
most likely caused by corruption in the 
Registry. Where exactly the corruption 
occurs is unclear. The reader did the 
right thing by scanning for viruses and 
other malicious code. Because that 
didn't resolve the issue, however, she 
needs to take more aggressive measures. 

Normally, we would recommend 
using System Restore to restore the 
Registry settings that predate the error. 
We also would recommend using the 
Add Or Remove Programs tool to 
uninstall all Windows updates. But in 
this situation, we lack faith in these 
fixes primarily because we lack faith in 
the repair technician. We don't know 
what type of maneuvers he performed, 
and we remain skeptical of his claims 
to have reinstalled WinXP. A clean re- 
install, performed properly, should 
have eliminated the error. 

For this reason, we suggest that the 
reader delete her current partition and 
reinstall Windows. She can start by 
backing up her important data files. 
Next, she should insert her WinXP in- 
stallation disc — ideally, this is the disc 
with the original version of WinXP, not 
WinXP SP2 — in the computer's optical 
drive and reboot the PC. She can follow 
the on-screen instructions to delete her 



current partition, reformat it, and in- 
stall the OS (operating system). If at 
any point she receives the option to 
perform a Windows repair, she should 
disregard it and continue with a com- 
plete system setup. 

When the installation is complete, 
she should reboot the system and check 
it for errors. The Registry Recovery 
Error should not occur. We advise her 
to keep her system in this clean state 
for several days (if possible) before in- 
stalling software on it. After rebooting 
several times over an extended period 
without encountering error messages, 
she then should install WinXP's SP2. 
After doing so and rebooting, she 
should maintain her system in this state 
for several days, rebooting each day. 

If the error doesn't appear during 
this time frame, she should use System 
Restore to set up a restore point and 
begin installing other Windows updates 
and third-party software (from trust- 
worthy sources, of course). She should 
reboot and set a new restore point after 
each installation, waiting a few days be- 
tween installations. If she encounters 
the Registry Recovery Error during any 
of these steps, she should uninstall the 
most recent addition and revert back to 
the last known good restore point. 



Problem: When a reader sends an 

email message, he receives an error 

message back indicating that the email 

address doesn't exist, but he knows for 

sure that the address is correct. 

Error Message: "Mailer Daemon. 
The email address does not exist." 

Solution: Mailer daemons come in 
a number of different formats, but 
they all reiterate the same message: 
An email was undelivered. The rea- 
sons for a failed email delivery are 
many: Perhaps the user typed the ad- 
dress incorrectly, maybe the des- 
tination inbox is too full to accept 



new messages, or maybe a mail 
server malfunctioned. 

In this case, however, we suspect the 
reader's messages are running into a 
mail filter that is configured to reject 
them. The filter may reject messages 
because they come from a particular 
address or domain, or perhaps it re- 
jects them because they don't come 
from a particular address or domain, 
or maybe it rejects them because of the 
content of the message or Subject line. 

The reader's best recourse is to con- 
tact the intended recipient — not by 
email, obviously — and ask him or her 
to reconfigure the filter settings so that 
the reader's messages get through. 



That way, if the recipient really wants 
to receive messages from the reader, 
he or she will take the steps needed to 
make sure the filter is set properly. 




Have questions about an error message you've seen? Send us your message (errormessages@smartcomputing.com), and 

we'll try to decipher it. Tell us what version of Windows you're using, give the full text of the error message, 

and provide as many details in your explanation as possible. Volume prohibits individual replies. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 81 



Tech Support 



Fast Fixes 



Security Update For Outlook 2002 

Problem: Microsoft has identified a 
flaw in Outlook 2002 that could let a 
hacker execute damaging programs 
on your PC when you open a mali- 
cious file. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 2.7MB file to update your soft- 
ware. To download the update, type 
the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser win- 
dow. After Microsoft's Download 
Center page loads, type KB905649 in 
the Search text box and click Go. 
Click the link named Security Update 
For Outlook 2002 (KB905649), and 
on the next page, click Download. 
After the transfer is complete, double- 
click the file (Officexp-KB905649- 
FullFile-ENU.exe) to begin the 
installation process. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 
Security Patch For Windows XP 

Problem: Microsoft has found a vul- 
nerability in WinXP that could let a 
hacker take control of your PC. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 477KB file to patch your oper- 
ating system. To download the up- 
date, type the URL we listed below in 
the Address field of your browser 
window. After Microsoft's Download 
Center page loads, type KB9 14798 in 
the Search text box and click Go. 
Click the link named Security Update 
For Windows XP (KB914798), and on 
the next page, click Download. After 
the transfer is complete, double-click 
the file (WindowsXP-KB914798-x86- 
ENU.exe) to begin the installation. 
After you install this component, you 
might have to restart your computer. 

www.m icrosoft.com/down loads 



Security Update For Word 2000 

Problem: Microsoft Word 2000 has 
a security problem that hackers may 
use to damage or steal your data when 
you open a rigged document. 

Resolution: Install this 4MB file 
to update your copy of Word. To 
download the update, type the URL 
we listed below in the Address field 
of your browser window. After 
Microsoft's Download Center page 
loads, type KB905553 in the Search 
text box and click Go. Click the link 
titled Security Update For Word 
2000 (KB905553), and on the next 
page, click Download. After the 
transfer is complete, double-click the 
file (Office2000-kb905553-fullfile- 
enu.exe) to begin the installation 
process. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 
Outlook 2003 Update 

Problem: You encounter prob- 
lems in Outlook 2003 when you 
use the CreateltemFromTemplate 
method to create a form program- 
matically. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 8.6MB file. To download the file, 
type the URL we listed below in the 
Address field of your browser win- 
dow. After Microsoft's Download 
Center page loads, type KB913807 in 
the Search text box and click Go. 
Click the link titled Update For 
Outlook 2003 (KB913807), and on 
the next page, click Download. After 
the transfer is complete, double-click 
the file (Office2003-KB913807- 
FullFile-ENU.exe) to begin the instal- 
lation process. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 



SafeDisc WinXP Fix 
For Microsoft Games 

Problem: When running a restricted 
user account with Fast User Switching in 
WinXP, some games do not launch prop- 
erly: The game will prompt you to insert 
the disc, even if you've already done so. 

Resolution: Download and install this 
185KB patch. To download the file, type 
the URL we listed below in the Address 
field of your browser. After Microsoft's 
Download Center page loads, type 
Safedisc Windows XP fix in the Search 
text box and click Go. Click SafeDisc 
Windows XP Fix For Microsoft Games, 
and on the next page, click Download. 
After the transfer is complete, double- 
click the file to begin the installation. 

www.microsoft.com/downloads 

Fix Of The Month 

Cumulative Updates For Windows 
2000 Service Pack 4 

Problem: You haven't installed 
all of the previously recomended 
updates for Windows 2000 Service 
Pack 4. 

Resolution: Download and install 
this 1.2MB file to update Win2000. 
To download the update, type the 
URL we listed below in the Address 
field of your browser window. After 
Microsoft's Download Center page 
loads, type KB885912 in the Search 
text box and click Go. Click the link 
named Update For Windows 2000 
(KB885912), and in the Validation 
Required box, click Continue. 
Follow the instructions for vali- 
dating your copy of Windows. In 
order to complete this process, 
you'll have to install a file from the 
Microsoft site. Once you've vali- 
dated Windows, click Download. 
After the transfer is complete, 
double-click the file (Windows2000- 
KB885912-x86-ENU.exe) to begin 
the installation process. 

www.m icrosoft.com/down loads 



82 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support Q&A 




Need help with your hardware or software? Looking for simple 
explanations on technical subjects? Send us your questions! 

Get straight answers to your technical questions from Smart Computing. Send your questions, 
along with a phone and/or fax number, so we can call you if necessary, to: Smart Computing Q&A, 
P.O. Box 85380, Lincoln, NE 68501, or email us at q&a@smartcomputing.com. Please include all 
version numbers for the software about which you're inquiring, operating system information, 
and any relevant information about your system. (Volume prohibits individual replies.) 




This Old 
Computer 



Ql have a five-year-old IBM Aptiva 500MHz 
Pentium III running (well, initially) Windows 
98 SE (Second Edition). It crashed, and some guru 
friends diagnosed it as having a faulty/failed hard 
drive. I replaced the drive with a Western Digital 
120CB model, but after inserting Western 
Digital's Data Lifeguard Tools CD, a message ap- 
peared on-screen that said: "No operating 
system." I inserted the IBM Aptiva Product 
Recovery And Diagnostics CD, and the "Invalid 
System Disk" message displayed. I tried using a 
Win98 Startup floppy diskette I had made on Feb. 
3, 2005, and I tried using a Basic Rescue Boot 
floppy I made on the same date via my Norton 
Antivirus program, but whenever I went back to 
the Aptiva CD, I always saw the "Invalid System 
Disk" message appear on-screen. I took the com- 
puter back to my guru buddies who tried various 
things, and at one point, an "Invalid partition 
table" message displayed. They concluded there 
was a hidden partition on the old drive with 
some information on it that's now missing, which 
is preventing me from accessing the CD. I had 
called IBM's tech support department previously, 
but all its representative could do was tell me 
that the Recovery And Diagnostics CD had every- 
thing on it, including Win98. While on the phone 
with IBM, the rep asked me to try several routines 
again, but they all ended with negative results. 
She was sympathetic but said IBM no longer has 



OEM (original equipment manufacturer) installa- 
tion discs for Win98. Can you help me? I have 
purchased a new PC, but I'd still like to get the 
old computer running so I can create a home 
network, even if I can only use it for word pro- 
cessing, spreadsheets, and games. 

A Your "gurus" are correct in their diag- 
nosis. In the past, IBM has used a special 
hidden partition on its hard drives to store 
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) informa- 
tion. Although this might have saved IBM a 
small amount of money per computer, it's 
caused a lot of grief for users in situations sim- 
ilar to yours. Without this partition, there's no 
way for the computer to properly boot. And it's 
during the boot cycle that the computer recog- 
nizes any peripherals, such as your CD-ROM 
drive and even your new hard drive. 

The only way around this conundrum would 
be to install the new drive in your new computer 
and then run the Recovery CD in the new com- 
puter. Then you can use the Recovery CD to 
transfer the missing BIOS components onto your 
new hard drive. When you finish this step, you 
can reinstall the new hard drive into your Aptiva 
computer. At this point, the Aptiva computer 
should be able to boot properly, and you should 
be able to perform a complete recovery from the 
Product Recovery And Diagnostics CD. 




Windows 



Ql find the Windows update process myste- 
rious. Occasionally, a flag message appears 
above my System Tray to tell me my system's up- 
dates are ready to be downloaded. (I have 
Windows set to notify me but not to automati- 
cally download and install updates.) How does 
Microsoft know I'm here? 

I have DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and a soft- 
ware-based firewall (Zone Labs' Integrity Client), 



and I recently installed a router that includes a 
firewall. I thought I was "invisible," but these noti- 
fications still seem to find me most of the time. If 
I'm able to open the flag message before it disap- 
pears, I can tell it to download the updates and 
install them, but sometimes the flag just fades 
away before I can provide further instructions. 
And when I do give permission to download 
and install updates, I'm often not sure when it's 



Smart Computing / June 2006 83 



Tech Support 



Q&A 



finished. What's going on? I always select 
"custom," so I can see what's being installed, but 
I'm not sure how far back it goes. Does it detect 
what's already been downloaded and installed 
and then just offer me new stuff? 

A Windows Update is a program that runs 
on your computer and manages the vast 
number of patches and updates issued by 
Microsoft. Windows Update does this by peri- 
odically contacting Microsoft's site to see if 
there are any updates available for Windows 
or other Microsoft software. Windows Update 
scans your system for existing updates and only 
downloads and installs new updates. 

There are four general settings for Windows 
Update: automatically download and install 
updates; download updates but let user choose 
when to install them; notify user but don't au- 
tomatically download or install updates; and 
disable automatic updates. 

When you configure Windows Update to the 
Automatic setting, it will automatically down- 
load and install recommended updates for your 
computer and install them behind the scenes. 
This is the setting we recommend for most 
users. With Windows Update set to Automatic, 
there's little chance that you'll miss out on an 
important security update or forget to install 
updates. We also recommend having Windows 
check for new updates on a daily basis. 

For users who like to monitor each and every 
change to their computer, having Windows 
Update download but not install updates gives 
you the chance to review each update and 
make sure that you want to install it. You'll be 



notified when Windows Update has a new 
patch or update to install. 

The settings that either notify the user about 
updates or disable automatic updates are op- 
tions we can't recommend in good conscience. 
With the number of vulnerabilities that appear 
daily, keeping your Windows installation up- 
to-date is extremely important. 

Sometimes Microsoft issues a patch or up- 
date that has a deleterious effect on your 
computer. This occasionally happens despite 
its staffs best efforts at testing the updates. So 
if you have a notification to install Update 
XYZ and you wait a day to manually install it, 
there's a good chance that Microsoft might 
have replaced it with an improved update, 
and that might explain why the notifications 
seem to disappear. 

You also can manually install updates by vis- 
iting update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate, 
which is handy when a new update is available, 
but Windows Update hasn't downloaded it yet. 
When you click Install Updates, a download 
window will open, displaying the progress of 
your download and installation. You can re- 
view its progress in the Installation Status por- 
tion of the download window. Some updates 
may require you to restart your computer to 
finish the installation process. 

Overall, Windows Update is a vital tool in 
keeping your computer safe from vulnerabili- 
ties that can allow a cracker to attack your 
computer. Combined with a good firewall, an- 
tivirus software, and antispyware, your com- 
puter should be safe from most of the prevalent 
threats on the Internet. 




Online 



Q Every time I start Quicken Deluxe 2005 on 
my Dell Dimension 8100 computer (running 
WinXP), ZoneAlarm Pro reports: "Quicken 
Launcher is trying to monitor your mouse move- 
ments & keyboard strokes." Should I trust Quicken? 
Should I download Quicken updates even if I don't 
need the improvements they provide? 

A The message you're receiving from 
ZoneAlarm is a common one for Quicken 
users. There's no need for concern, as Zone- 
Alarm is just being hypersensitive. ZoneAlarm 
can often trigger an alert for this type of 
thing, depending on the version of Quicken 
you're using. 



As to whether you should download and 
install any updates Quicken provides, our 
recommendation is yes. Software vendors 
such as Quicken's developer, Intuit, typically 
release updates for several reasons: to fix 
known bugs, to improve stability, and to 
improve security. 

If you choose not to install an update, you 
may be hampered in obtaining support from 
Intuit in the future. One of the first things 
software vendors ask when you initiate a sup- 
port call is whether your software is up-to- 
date. However, before you install any new 
software — which includes updates — make 
sure you have a good backup of your data. 



84 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support 



Q&A 




Hardware 



Ql back up an extensive number of images 
and movie clips onto recordable DVDs. 
I burn the media with Roxio Easy Media 
Creator, and I make sure they have burned cor- 
rectly by playing and reviewing them. However, 
much to my disappointment, I have found that 
over time, some images and clips can't open or 
play back at all. The drive struggles to find the 
files and then crashes. What causes recordable 
DVDs to become unreadable over time? What 
precautions should be taken to preserve 
the stored data? 

A Although backing up data to optical 
media (regardless of whether they're CDs 
or DVDs) is a good strategy for short-term 
storage, the verdict is still out as to whether it's 
an effective strategy for long-term storage. 
There are many reasons for this debate, but 
most center around the sensitivity of the 
storage medium to damage. 

It's important to remember that a DVD or a 
CD burned using a home computer system 
isn't the same as one manufactured by a movie 
studio or software publishing house. Discs cre- 
ated by these businesses use a process of 
pressing the disc together, so the discs have a 
much higher longevity. 

Discs burned on home computers, however, 
use a special laser that activates a dye substrate 



within the disc itself. As the laser activates the 
dye, it encodes your data in a digital format 
that's readable by the drive. This dye is sus- 
ceptible to various environmental conditions 
that can cause it to degrade faster than you 
would expect. 

The first step in making your recordable 
DVDs last a long time is to purchase quality 
media. The lowest priced media usually means 
that the manufacturer has cut costs some- 
where, often by using inferior dyes or not 
following best practices during the manufac- 
turing cycle. Our recommendation is to pur- 
chase media from a well-known vendor, such 
as Verbatim, and avoid the "no-name" brands. 
According to NIST (National Institute of 
Standards and Technology), for archival 
storage you also should look for media that has 
a gold metal reflective layer. 

In addition, you can improve the life of 
your discs by proper handling and storage. 
Handle your DVDs with care, store them in 
their cases in an upright fashion, and keep 
them out of direct sunlight. High humidity 
also can cause discs to degrade prematurely. 
Surprisingly, fingerprints and smudges can 
cause more damage than scratches. If they're 
properly cared for and DVDs of a higher 
quality, NIST says they should be able to last 
for 30 years. 




Multimedia 



QHelp! My iPod mini was working fine, but 
now I hear a tremendous amount of static 
while playing music. I've treated it well, so I don't 
know how this happened or what I'm doing 
wrong. I've even tried using different headsets, 
but I still hear a lot of static. 

A Unfortunately, you're not the first one to 
experience this problem with the iPod 
mini. Since its introduction in 2004, there have 
been numerous reports of problems with static 
when using the iPod mini's headset connector. 
Usually these iPods have no problem playing 
while connected to a computer, but they do 
seem to experience static that's induced by 
their headset connector. 

Resolving this problem depends on two fac- 
tors: when you purchased your iPod mini and if 
you purchased AppleCare. Apple includes one 
year of warranty coverage on the iPod mini, and 



this issue is one that should be covered by that 
warranty. You also can purchase the AppleCare 
Protection Plan for iPod for your iPod mini 
during its warranty period. By purchasing 
AppleCare for your iPod mini, you're simply 
extending the warranty period for an additional 
year. The AppleCare Protection Plan for iPod 
service currently costs S59. If your iPod mini is 
still under warranty, you can request service for 
it by calling (800) 275-2273, and Apple will 
repair your iPod mini free of charge. 

Unfortunately, if your iPod mini is out of its 
warranty period, repairing it through Apple is 
probably not the best solution. The fee for out- 
of-warranty repair will exceed the price of a 
new iPod mini, and you'll still be lacking any 
warranty in the event you have additional 
problems. Our recommendation would be 
to purchase a new iPod with the extended 
AppleCare warranty coverage. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 85 



Tech Support 



Q&A 



Hardware 



Ql'm confused about how hard drives are 
connected to PCs. I've heard about IDE, 
master/slave, and SATA, but I don't know how 
they all fit together. 

A Computers use a bus system to transfer 
data from storage devices such as hard 
drives and optical drives. The most common 
bus in use is the IDE (Integrated Drive Elec- 
tronics), followed by SCSI (Small Computer 
System Interface), and then there's the new- 
comer on the scene: SATA (Serial Advanced 
Technology Attachment) . 

All three of these standards allow com- 
puter manufacturers to design and build 
storage peripherals that work interchange- 
ably. As long as your computer supports IDE, 
it doesn't matter if the peripheral is made by 
Seagate, Maxtor, IBM, or any other hard 
drive manufacturer. 

Each of these bus systems is integrated 
into your computer's motherboard. In the 
case of IDE devices, a ribbon cable is used to 
attach the IDE device to the motherboard. 
There is an 18-inch limit to the length of this 
cable, and only two devices can be attached 
to a single cable or interface. Most mother- 
boards provide two IDE interfaces, enabling 
you to connect up to four of these devices to 
your computer. 

However, using multiple devices on a single 
interface poses a unique problem when using 
IDE. Because IDE devices have all the control 
circuitry integrated into the drive (hence the 
name), there's no master controller on the 
motherboard that's able to coordinate the 
transmission of data. Instead, the two devices 
use either a master/slave configuration or 
Cable Select. 

In a master/slave configuration, the master 
drive is used to control data transfers from 
the two devices on an IDE interface. Con- 
figuring two hard drives to use master/slave 
settings involves connecting the master hard 
drive to the end of the IDE cable and con- 
necting the slave hard drive to the middle 
connector on the cable. 

Plus, users need to adjust small jumpers on 
each drive to designate one as the master and 
the other as the slave. These jumpers are 
small pieces of plastic and metal that func- 
tion as switches on a hard drive. 

When data is requested from the slave 
hard drive, it will query the master drive to 



see if the interface is already in use. If so, 
it will wait a short time and then query the 
master hard drive again. Eventually the 
master drive will grant the slave drive per- 
mission to send data to the motherboard 
across the IDE interface. 

In addition to the master/slave configura- 
tion, there's also Cable Select to consider. In 
theory, Cable Select works similarly to the 
master/slave arrangement, but a hard drive's 
position on the IDE cable and its jumper 
settings aren't as crucial. 

Simply connect the hard drives to a Cable 
Select-compatible IDE cable — in any order — 
and then set the jumpers on both devices to 
Cable Select. Instead of relying on the end 
position on the cable to determine the master 
hard drive, Cable Select uses its cable de- 
sign to designate a master and corresponding 
slave device. 

As we mentioned previously, the new- 
comer to this area of computing is SATA. 
As the successor to IDE, SATA does away 
with many of the legacy problems associated 
with the older interface design. With SATA, 
there can be only one hard drive per con- 
troller, and each has its own dedicated cable 
and bandwidth. 

In addition, SATA interfaces are much 
faster than those available from IDE; in 
comparison to IDE's maximum rate of 
133MBps (megabytes per second), SATA in- 
terfaces can communicate at rates from 
150MBpsto600MBps. 

The SATA standard also eliminates the 
bulky ribbon cables used by IDE inter- 
faces. Instead, SATA uses slender cables 
that can improve the overall airflow within 
the computer's case. These cables can be 
as long as 1 meter in length, which allows 
computer manufacturers greater freedom in 
how they position hard drives within their 
computer's chassis. 

SATA devices also use different power 
connectors than IDE devices use. These new- 
er connectors enable SATA devices to be 
hotswapped (connected and disconnected 
while the computer is still running) — yet 
another advantage. 

In comparison, attempting to hotswap an 
IDE device will usually crash your com- 
puter — and possibly damage any data on 
the device. 



86 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support 



FAQ 



Asked 
Questions 



Answers to users' most common questions about 

802.1 In 



r~ A /^v What is 802.1 1 n, and what do I need to get it 
l/\ V^ working in my home? Is it compatible with 
my existing 802.1 1g wireless devices? 

802.1 In is the newest wireless networking standard 
currently being evaluated by the IEEE (Institute of 
Electrical and Electronic Engineers) organization. The 
goal of industry groups supporting 802.1 In is to provide 
a wireless throughput of more than 100Mbps (megabits 
per second) — as a real-world measurement, not a theo- 
retical one. That's about twice as fast as today's 802.1 lg 
standard, which has a throughput of 54Mbps, and will 
finally place wireless networking speeds on par with 
wired 10/ 100Mbps Ethernet networks. 

Of course, to achieve 802.1 In throughput rates, you'll 
need 802.1 In-compliant devices. At a minimum, this 
means you'll need an 802.1 In NIC (network interface 
card) in your laptop, along with an 802.1 In wireless 
router (or access point) attached to your broadband cable 
or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service. Remember that 
your network will only go as fast as the slowest compo- 
nent within it, so adding an 802.1 In NIC to a laptop 
won't buy you anything if your older 802. 1 lg wireless 
router can only achieve up to 54Mbps. 

However, unless you have 802.11a devices, you don't 
need to upgrade everything in your home or small office. 
Most 802.1 In devices are backward-compatible with ex- 
isting 802.11b and 802. 1 lg devices (but aren't compatible 
with 802.11a devices), so the older 802.11b/g devices can 
still communicate with the newer 802.1 In devices — just at 
their slower rates — so you may only need to upgrade the 
wireless router (or access points) and any laptops that 
need higher throughput rates. 



r A f\ What's the difference between 
l~/\ V£ 802.1 1n and other labels, including 
"pre-n/' SRX, and Super G? 

The problem with 802.1 In is that the IEEE hasn't yet 
ratified it as a standard. Although the IEEE is working on 
the process, many in the industry don't expect the stan- 
dard to be accepted until the end of 2006 or early 2007. 
Wireless device manufacturers can't sell "802.1 In" prod- 
ucts until the standard is finalized, but because they know 
how to get better wireless speeds today, you'll find several 
pre-n wireless devices, along with a variety of proprietary 
speed-boosting products with names such as SRX (Speed 
and Range expansion) or Super G. 

Linksys uses the SRX label, whereas NETGEAR employs 
the Super G moniker. Both companies are using advanced 
chips and multiple antennas to achieve greater speed and 
range than current 802.1 lg products. As with any new 
technology, however, you only get the speed and range 
benefits of SRX or Super G when used with other compat- 
ible products. Thus, the difference between 802.1 In and 
other early adopters, such as pre-n, SRX, and Super G, is 
that each approach is proprietary — and not necessarily 
compatible — with the others. That's why standardization 
is needed: To ensure that every product in that category 
will work together. For now, once you pick a manufac- 
turer, you're basically locked in to using only products 
from that manufacturer until IEEE standardizes 802.1 In. 

There are two main technological approaches used to 
achieve the speed and range of 802.1 In, but the IEEE can 
only approve one method in the final 802.1 In standard, 
and this will create a problem for some of the users who 
already purchased pre-n products. Some users might find 
that their pre-n products work perfectly with other pre-n 
products from the same manufacturer but aren't compat- 
ible with pre-n products from other manufacturers; 
what's worse is that their pre-n products may not be com- 
patible with the final 802.1 In standard. 

r A /"""\ Will I need new Windows drivers for 802.1 1 n 
l/\V^ wireless devices? 

External 802.1 In devices, such as wireless routers, most 
likely won't require drivers for individual client PCs. 
Newer OSes (operating systems), such as Windows XP, 
will generally support new 802.1 In NICs without needing 
new drivers, but chances are that you'll have the option to 
install management/configuration utilities that are bun- 
dled with specific devices. In most cases, though, WinXP 
will easily handle new wireless devices, so go ahead and try 
the new NIC on your PC before worrying about installing 
new drivers. But if you can't get top performance with na- 
tive Windows control, try installing the manufacturer's 
management utility. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 87 



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Tech Support 




Alienware Woes 
& Missing Manuals 



ACTION EDITOR 

Are you having trouble 
finding a product or 
getting adequate service 
from a manufacturer? If 
so, we want to help solve 
your problem. Send us 
a description of the 
product you're seeking 
or the problem you're 
having with customer 
service. In billing dis- 
putes, include relevant 
information (such as ac- 
count numbers or screen 
names for online ser- 
vices) and photocopies 
of checks. Include your 
phone number in case 
we need to contact you. 

Letters may be edited for 
length and clarity; 
volume prohibits indi- 
vidual replies. 

Write to: 
Action Editor 
P.O. Box 85380 
Lincoln, NE 68501-5380 

Or send email to: 

actioneditor@smart 

computing.com 

Or fax us at: 
(402) 479-2104 



/ received my new Alienware 
system on Feb. 7 and was in 
gaming heaven until Feb. 10 when 
my problems started. After receiving an 
error message, I could not get my system 
to boot. Alienware technical support walked 
me through some diagnostics and eventually de- 
termined that I needed to reinstall Windows. 
Unfortunately, I did not receive a Windows CD 
with my system. The rep told me he'd send a CD 
overnight, and I'd have it in a few days at the 
latest. When the disc didn't arrive, I contacted 
Alienware, and the rep told me that I should 
have the disc within seven days. The rep denied 
my request to speak to a manager, claiming they 
were all in a meeting. I called the next day to 
complain, and this time, the rep was very apolo- 
getic and promised to overnight a disc to me. I 
called Alienware early the next week after not 
receiving the disc. This time, the rep informed 
me that Alienware couldn't have shipped any- 
thing the previous week because the mailroom 
was closed. The rep also mentioned that 
Alienware doesn't overnight anything and can 
only send items via two-day mail. Once again, 
no manager was available to speak to me. When 
I said I wanted to return the system, the rep told 
me I'd have to pay a 15% restockingfee (which 
would come to about $580). I called back the 
next week, and this time, the rep said Alienware 
had shipped a disc on Feb. 18. Several days later, 
I still have not received the disc and seem to be 
getting nowhere with Alienware. 

Steven Grassel 
Hemet, Calif. 



We emailed our PR contact at Alienware 
several times, and despite assurances, no one 
from Alienware ever contacted Steven to help 
resolve the issue or even address his concerns. 
Meanwhile, Steven continued to call Alien- 
ware inquiring about the disc. Steven ended 
up receiving three Windows XP Pro discs 
from Alienware over three days in early 
March, but according to Steven, none of the 
discs had a postmark before March 2. After 



reinstalling Windows, Alienware determined 
that the real problem was a bad memory card. 
Despite Steven's previous problems with 
Alienware, the company would not ship out a 
new module before it received the old one (un- 
less Steven was willing to charge the memory 
module to a credit card and wait for Alienware 
to refund the charge after receiving the faulty 
module). Steven did eventually receive the new 
memory module, and more than a month after 
his new system died, it's finally working again. 

It appears Alienware's customer service has 
slipped over the last year. We've touted the 
company's customer service and tech support 
in the past and rarely received complaints 
about this company. Over the past year, how- 
ever, we've seen an increasing number of 
complaints regarding Alienware's customer 
service. We sincerely hope the company can 
turn things around and provide the level of 
customer service we've seen from the com- 
pany in the past. We gave Alienware a chance 
to comment on Steven's case, but no one re- 
turned our calls by press time. 



In the March 2006 issue of Smart Computing, 
you featured a roundup of media creation suites. 
You mention that Roxio Easy Media Creator Sin- 
eludes a 318-page printed users manual. I tried 
contacting Roxio and customer service representa- 
tives told me the company has never distributed 
paper manuals. I was provided with a PDF 
(Portable Document Format) version of the 
manual, but I would prefer something in print. 

Ronald La Rue 

Montreal, Quebec 

Canada 



We contacted Roxio to inquire about the dis- 
crepancy and was informed that Roxio has al- 
ways included paper manuals with its products. 
We asked why customer service representatives 
told Ronald just the opposite, and our PR rep 
couldn't say for sure. However, she did send a 
copy of the manual to Ronald right away. 



Smart Computing / June 2006 89 



Tech Support 




Tales From The Trenches 



We've all received those calls. A 
well-meaning friend or rela- 
tive, in a slight panic, needs 
help getting out of a computer bind. 
You, of course, as a Smart Computing 
reader, are a natural candidate to help. 
Right? Like or not, when your uncle 
Dan opens that email promising cheap 
prescription drugs and infects his 
computer with a nasty virus, rectifying 
the situation often becomes your 
problem. Here are some ways I've 
found to maintain both your sanity 
and the relationships in your life. 

Maintain Calm 

Put things into perspective, both for 
you and your stricken PC user. If 
Uncle Dan didn't respect your tech- 
nical aptitude and pleasant demeanor, 
he wouldn't have asked for your help. 
So take it as a compliment. And help 
him understand that computer prob- 
lems are rarely as dire as they seem. A 
methodical, logical approach to trou- 
bleshooting is the best tech support 
medicine, and your bedside manner 
will go a long way toward setting the 
tone. I try to ask narrowing questions 
(think 20 Questions) to pin down the 
true source of the problem. People 
who don't necessarily understand how 
all the parts of a computer fit together 
may have trouble getting down to the 
root of an issue. Often, I've found that 
the best assistance I can provide is 
helping to figure out the real cause of 
the problem, after which the solution 
is readily apparent. Unless, of course, 
you have unlimited resources and 
would rather just buy someone a new 



computer every time he has a problem. 
Not an option for me, but your 401(k) 
might be doing much better than mine. 

Teach Them To Fish 

Avoid the temptation to take over. 
Don't immediately run over to his 
place with your screwdriver and anti- 
static wristband. And don't have him 
drop off the machine at your house 
with a promise to return it in original 
working order. All that will accomplish 
is establishing yourself as his full-time 
in-house IT support group. I, for one, 
want that less than I want to be able to 
go to the movies Friday night. As 
painful as it might be at first, walk him 
through the clicks and connections to 
troubleshoot and solve the problem. 
Not only will he learn to solve prob- 
lems himself, but eventually, you'll also 
earn his undying gratitude and respect 
(and maybe a free meal). Now, under- 
stand that you may need to stand over 
your friend's shoulder through the op- 
eration, but teaching others to navigate 
their own systems pays big dividends 
in the long run. 

Know When To Punt 

Remember that you don't have to 
solve every problem. And lay down 
some rules. I don't answer those calls 
at 6:30 in the morning when I know 
it's going to take two hours to hook 
up my father-in-law's new digital 
camera. That's why God invented the 
magical combination of caller ID and 
voicemail. Call back when your 
schedule is clear and you've fortified 



You Need 



Help With 
What! 



your patience with slow breathing and 
soothing music. Finally, know your 
limits. When my parents' seven-year- 
old 300Mhz Pentium I machine finally 
choked on a new Norton Security 
package this fall, I had one simple and 
immediate answer: "It's time for a new 
computer, Mom. Sorry." When you 
suspect motherboard, memory, or 
power supply problems from halfway 
across the country, direct people to 
the phone book. It's likely to point the 
way to help beyond what you can ac- 
complish over the phone. Help people 
understand that amateur tech sup- 
port, no matter how savvy, is just 
that — amateur. Sometimes you just 
have to go to the pros. 

A little patience and a little per- 
spective will go a long way toward 
maintaining your tech support sanity. 
You just might be on the other end of 
that phone call one of these early 
mornings. And I promise to calmly 
help you understand exactly what you 
can do with that little USB hub. II 

by Gregory Anderson 



Gregory Anderson is a regular 
contributor to Smart Computing and 
several other technology publications. 
He keeps a sharp eye (with the help of 
thick glasses) on computing trends and 
enjoys working with geeks of all 
stripes — most of the time. Reach Greg 
with your own stories of personal tech 
support provision at gregory- 
anderson@smartcomputing.com. 



90 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 



Tech Support 



Tech Support Center 



So you've decided you need a new hard 
drive and that you're going to install it 
yourself. Where do you start? Do you have 
all the information you need? Before taking 
on your next computing project, be sure to 
check out SmartComputing. corn's Tech 
Support Center for some guidance. There, 
you'll find the How To Install . . . Just About 
Anything section and learn how to install 
everything from hard drives to sound cards 
and wireless networks. At the bottom of 
each article, you'll find a subject 
search where you can find more rele- 
vant articles from our editorial data- 
base. Finding the information is as 
easy as 1 ... 2 ... 3! 

Go to www.smartcomputing.com 
and click the Tech Support Center 
link. 

Scroll down until you come to the 
How To Install . . . Just About 
Anything section and click the 
link. 



Click the component you want to 
install, and you will be whisked to 
a full-text article that gives you 
comprehensive instructions on 
installing it yourself. 

Don't forget to check out other helpful 
areas of the Tech Support Center, including 
Preventative & Regular Maintenance, as well 
as Driver Education. Preventative & Regular 
Maintenance takes an in-depth look at the 
simple things that keep your system in tip-top 
shape, while Driver Education will show you 
how to keep your drivers up-to-date to ensure 
that your PC whizzes along smoothly. Find 
everything you need today at SmartCom- 
puting.com's Tech Support Center! 




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SmartComputing / June 2006 91 



Editorial 



License 



Metaphor, Meaning & Madness 



« 



w 



hen I use a word," 

Humpty Dumpty said 

in a rather scornful 
tone, "it means just what I choose it to 
mean — neither more nor less. " 

"The question is," said Alice, 
"whether you can make words mean 
so many different things." 

"The question is," said Humpty 
Dumpty, "which is to he master — 
that's all. " 
— Lewis Carroll, "Alice in Wonderland" 

Words are such a bother, aren't they? All 
those confusing letters. I mean, who needs 'em 
really? (Oh, wait. ... I guess I do. After all, they pay 
me for all of these words we put in this magazine! So I sup- 
pose that makes me the Secretary to the Secretary of the 
Second Assistant Vice President in Charge of Words around 
here. And Mom thought I'd never amount to anything.) 

Like Lewis Carroll's Alice, though, I sometimes wonder 
whether we're in control of the words we use or if they in 
fact control us. (Some researchers have said that, in the end, 
it's a bit of both. See www.tinyurl.com/rtpmt.) 

Take tech terms. (Please.) Now, some of our "new" tech 
terms aren't really new at all; they're old words used in an 
imaginative way, newly utilized as metaphors that are sup- 
posed to make sense to us. In other words, we use familiar 
terms to help us understand new things. When the world 
changes, language must also change so that we have ways to 
describe that new world. 

For example, consider "Easter egg," referring to a secret 
message or screen (or even another entire program) buried 
in a piece of software. In the '90s, Microsoft programmers 
built a little flight simulator into some versions of Excel: an 
early Easter egg. (Nothing worse than a bunch of program- 
mers with too much time on their hands.) 

The list goes on, of course, with dozens of old words being 
used metaphorically to help us understand a world that is 
rapidly becoming technologized: mouse, bug, menu, folder, 
icon, button, Desktop, paste, window, email, firewall, 
gateway, geek, surfing, notebook, wildcard, queue. . . . All of 
these terms come to a technological world from elsewhere. 

Of course, that's not quite confusing enough, so now we 
have metaphors on top of metaphors: "ping," for example. 
The word is an onomatopoetic offering of the mid- 1800s, 
originally meant to imitate the sound of a bullet striking. It 
came into use as an electronics term in the 1940s, meaning "to 
send a short, high-pitched pulse," and became familiar to 
many of us when used by submariners to describe sending 




such a burst to facilitate locating an enemy sub. 
VaAs technology advanced, "ping" crossed over to 
the world of computers. In the 1980s, it took 
on something close to its current meaning: 
to send a pulse of data. These days it's often 
used as a verb: To "ping" a Web site is to 
send a quick data request, just to see if the 
target site exists and is up and running 
and to record how long the send/ 
receive transaction took. 
However, if you're able to track the 
etymology of "ping," it must mean that 
it's still not confusing enough. Therefore, 
people have come up with yet another usage, 
thus creating a metaphor on top of a metaphor 
on top of a metaphor: Now we hear people 
saying things such as, "Well, I know you're busy right now, so 
just ping me when you get back into the office." (These are the 
same folks who wander the mall with wireless headsets 
clamped to their ears, speaking to absent — and, for all we 
know, nonexistent — people.) 

Because we know the term's origins, we could read that as 
asking someone to shoot him as soon as he's able to devote 
some time to it. Which may be a fine idea, of course, depending 
on who's saying it and whether he's wearing a wireless headset. 

But my favorite of all metaphorical computer terms is 
"pod slurping." 

"Pod slurping" is a perfect example of how technology en- 
courages the use of metaphors and other mechanisms to 
form new words. The term actually puts me in mind of a 
really cheap B-movie; one of those cheesy black-and-white 
horror flicks we convinced our parents to let us watch as kids, 
promising that we wouldn't have nightmares. (Which, of 
course, we did. Mom really did know best, as it turns out.) It 
sounds as if it should have something to do with slimy alien 
beings that come to Earth to inhabit the bodies of pop singers 
and make them behave in oddly self-destructive ways. (Hey, 
wait a minute, I could be on to something here. . . . ) 

Alas, it's not nearly that interesting. "Pod slurping" means 
taking an iPod (or similar device) into an office and using it to 
copy files (i.e., to "slurp them up") from the computers on peo- 
ple's desks. In other words, it's a digital (and therefore fast and 
simple) mechanism for facilitating corporate espionage. But 
you hafta love any term that includes the word "slurp," right? II 

by Rod Scher 



Rod Scher is a former software developer and a recovering English 
teacher. He's also the publication editor of Smart Computing and 
will no doubt continue in that position until such time as his boss 
reads this column. Contact Rod afrod-scher@smartcomputing.com. 



92 June 2006 / www.smartcomputing.com 




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